PRINCE HALL LODGES
HISTORY - LEGITIMACY - QUEST FOR RECOGNITION
W.B. Joseph E. Moniot
The reader should be aware that, unlike the abundance of writings and records of the white Lodges and Grand Lodges of America, those of the Prince Hall Lodges and Grand Lodges are of extremely limited supply. Those that are available must be considered unreliable and viewed with suspicion until verified, if that be possible.
During the past two hundred plus years, there have been a certain few writers and historians, of both the black and white races, who have altered or adjusted facts to serve their own purposes. Often there will be more than one version of certain data or events and neither can be proven. When this occurs, both will be included, any opinions formed will, of necessity, be those of the reader.
On March 6, 1775, in a Lodge of Freemasons at Castle William, Boston Harbour, (later called Fort Independence) Prince Hall and fourteen others were initiated by the Master of Lodge No. 441: a travelling military Lodge of Irish Registry attached to the 38th Foot (Regiment) under the command of General Gage. The Master of Lodge No. 441 was Sergeant (or Sergeant-Major) John B. Batt.
From an address by John V. DeGrasse to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, on June 30, 1858:
"One year later (1776) According to a statement which I have in his (Hall's) own: handwriting, in the 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 Coloured Men in America".
Sources differ as to the work performed by African Lodge, No. 1 (so designated by Prince Hall) from the time of its formation until the receipt of its Warrant in 1787. One source states that work began immediately and up to forty-one degrees were conferred.
In a letter written by Prince Hall to the Grand Lodge of England (Modern) of March 2, 1784, applying for a warrant, there is no mention of work having been performed. It stated only, that they had "a permit to walk on St. John's day and bury our dead."
A "Warrant of Constitution" was issued for African Lodge No. 459, by the Grand Lodge of England; Signed and sealed on September 29, 1784 under the authority of His Royal Highness Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master, by R. Holt, Deputy Grand Master and attested by William White, Grand Secretary.
After several delays for various reasons, the Warrant was delivered to Prince Hall on April 29, 1787 by Captain James Scott, a seafaring man of London. It was said that this captain was a brother-in-law of John Hancock, one of the signers of our Declaration of Independence. In addition to the Warrant, Captain Scott delivered a bound copy of the Book of Constitutions as a gift from the Grand Secretary, William White.
African Lodge, No. 459, was organized under its Warrant on May 6, 1778, with Prince Hall as Worshipful Master; Boston Smith, Senior Warden; and Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden.
On May 17, 1787, Prince Hall acknowledged the receipt of the Warrant and thanked the Grand Secretary for the gift of the Book of Constitutions. He advised that he would be sending a copy of their By-laws and roster of the Members.
The records of the Grand Lodge of England show that African Lodge, No. 459 made contributions to its charity fund in 1789, 1792, 1793 and 1797. Apparently, the English law left it to the Lodges themselves to determine what sums the "circumstances of the Lodge" justified them to contribute to the Grand Charity.
In 1792, the Grand Lodge of England renumbered its Lodges. African Lodge was advanced to No. 370, however, all the records since that time appear to use No. 459. It is highly possible that African Lodge, No. 459, never knew of the change in its number.
African Lodge, No. 459, remained on the English Registry until 1813, when at the Union of the Grand Lodges of the "Ancients" and "Moderns" into the present United Grand Lodge of England, it and all the other Lodges in America on the English Registry were erased.
P.G.M. Charles Griswold, in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota of 1877, p.58, put the erasures by the Grand Lodge of England in such a comprehensive form, it deserves being quoted in its entirety:
"In making said erasures, 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, virtually severed their connection with the parent Grand Lodge. The action of the Grand Lodge of Enoand was simply a recognition of this fact. Prince Hall Grand lodge proper was formed in 1808, five years before the said erasure took place. When the attention of Bro. Hervey, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England, was first called to this matter, he gave it 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 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 Masonic News' of Canada, 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'."
In 1792, the present Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was formed by the union of St. John's Grand Lodge (Modern) and Massachusetts Grand Lodge (Ancient). At this union the last named body voted "that this Grand Lodge be dissolved." The reason: the only two lodges in Massachusetts which possessed charters emanating directly from the mother country took no part in the organizing of this new body - St Andrews, the oldest of the "Ancient" lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland and African Lodge No. 459, the only Lodge that ever existed in Massachusetts which possessed the warrant of the Grand Master of the "Moderns," or the Mother Grand Lodge of the World".
St. Andrews Lodge was pressured for years to become a member of the new Grand Lodge but refused to do so until 1809. African Lodge, No. 459, was never invited to become a part of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
The African Grand Lodge of North America was formed on June 24, 1791, when a General Assembly of Coloured Masons was convened at Mason's Hall, in the Golden Fleece, Water Street, Boston, with the following officers:
- Prince Hall, Grand Master,
- Cyrus Forbes, Senior Grand Warden
- George Middleton, Junior Grand Warden
- Peter Best, Grand Treasurer
- Prince Taylor, Grand Secretary
It was set up as a Provincial Grand Lodge under warrant of the Grand Lodge of England. It is said that the only copy of the Warrant was destroyed in a fire in Philadelphia along with numerous other records of the Philadelphia African Lodge. Available references are silent as to wether this warrant was ever issued.
Whether Prince Hall was actually appointed a Provincial Grand Master, or not, he was addressed as "Right Worshipful Brother" by William White, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England (Modern) in a letter dated August 20,1792. Which letter requested Prince Hall to investigate and report on the status of a list of lodges established by that Grand Lodge in the Colonies of New England.
The application of the term "Right Worshipful" differed between the two Grand Lodges of England prior to 1813. The "Ancients" applied that form address to the Masters of subordinate Lodges. The "Modern" Grand Lodge, that warranted African Lodge, No. 459, reserved the use of the salutation "Right Worshipful"for the Provincial Grand Masters, District Deputy Grand Masters and its own Grand Officers.
On page 13 of "Negro Masonry in the United States," by Harold Van Buren Voorhis, is an illustration of the cover of a pamphlet, owned by the Grand Lodge of New York, of a "Charge" delivered to African Lodge on June 25th, 1792 showing it to be "By the Right Worshipful Prince Hall."
The provincial Grand Masters commissioned to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Henry Price, Joseph Warren, John Rowe, etc., were all addressed as "Right Worshipfull."
About six months after the death of Prince Hall, a Delegate Convention of Negro Masons was held at Boston, July 24, 1808, with representatives of the Lodges at Boston, Philadelphia and Providence: present. The Deputy Grand Master, Nero Prince, was elected Grand Master and the name of the Grand Lodge was changed to "Prince Hall Grand Lodge" in honour of their first Master and Grand Master.
During Prince Hall's tenure as Grand Master, he had warranted two Lodges:
- African Lodge, No. 459, at Philadelphia on June 24, 1797.
- Niram Lodge, No. 3, at Providence, Rhode Island, date unknown.
From 1808 to 1813 the Prince Hall Grand Lodge warranted, at least, four more Lodges:
- Union Lodge, No.2, at Philadelphia.
- Laurel Lodge, No.5, at Philadelphia.
- Phoenix Lodge, No.6, at Philadelphia.
- Boyer Lodge, No. 1, at New York.
No Lodge appears with the number of 4.
Who was Prince Hall? The version of his biography that is most often quoted and accepted is as follows:
"Hall was born on September 12, 1748 at Bridgetown, Barbados, British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englishman and his mother of French descent. He was apprenticed as a leather worker - came to the United States in 1765 at the age of 17 - applied himself industriously to common labour during the day and studied privately at night. Upon reaching the age of 27, he had acquired the fundamentals of an education. Saving his earnings, he had accumulated sufficient funds to buy a piece of property. He joined the Methodist Church in which he passed as an eloquent preacher. His first church was located in Cambridge, Massachusetts..."
The author of this biography was William H. Grimshaw, a Past Grand Master (1907) of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, District of Columbia. It was included in his "Official History of Free Masonry Among the Coloured People in North America", published in 1903. Prince Hall historians have denounced his "official" history and consider the biography "a figment of his imagination".
Who, then, was Prince Hall? No one seems to know. What little information there is about him is sketchy, some contradictory and most confusing.
The few items relative to Prince Hall's personal background that have proved reliable are the records of his marriages, the Boston Assessor's tax rolls, and a few petitions and depositions that became public record in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A historian, John M. Sherman published an article, in 1963, containing a copy of an old notarial record of 1770 which reads:
"This may certify it may concern that Prince Hall has lived with us 21 (date unclear - may be 25) years and has served us well upon all occasions for which reason we maturely give him his freedom and he is no longer Reckoned a slave but has always accounted as a freeman by us as he has served us faithfully upon that account we have given him his freedom as witness our hands this ninth day of April 1770.
X (Elizabeth Hall's mark)."
This copy of, what might be called, a Certificate of Manumission has been challenged for many reasons; from the fact that there was known to have been, at least, three (3) Prince Halls living in the vicinity of Boston about 1745 to 1749; to the fact that the document was not an original but a copy kept in the diary of Ezekiel Price, the Recorder.
The records of the School Street Church of Boston contain the following entry for November 2, 1763:
"Prince Hall, neg. svt., William Hall & Sarah, neg. svt., Francis Richie".
This record could possibly validate the "Certificate of Manumission" we have just seen; Prince Hall, a negro servant of William Hall married Sarah, a negro servant of Frances Richie.
From "Black Square and Compass" by Joseph A. Walkes, Jr.: "In the August 31, 1807 deposition of Prince Hall concerning John Vinal, he wrote, 'I was a member of his church (Andrew Cromwell), being in full communion therewith, for a number of years, having been received into the same in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty two in Nov'r." (Suffolk County Registry of Deeds)
This wife died in 1769, and was buried in the Copp's Burial Ground, Boston. Engraved on her headstone is:
"Here lies the Body of Sarah Ritchery Wife of Prince Hall died Feb. the 26th 1769 aged 24 years".
The preceding documents, among others similar to these, containing information concerning the Prince Hall, in whom we are interested, pose certain questions:
- Would two separate families have allowed a marriage between two slaves or indentured servants, in 1763: without one or the other having been sold or freed?
- Would two slaves have been married in a church in 1763?
- Could it be possible that the so-called "Certificate of Manumission" was a fabrication? If so, why?
- Would a Slave or indentured servant have been a member of a church "being in full communion therewith" in 1762?
Prince Hall married again in 1770 and the notice read: "Prince Hall of Boston and Flora (Gibbs) of Crouchester Married by the Rev. Samuel Chandler, August 22, 1770".
This announcement did not mention race or occupation. Nothing is known of this wife, when or where she died or was buried.
Hall married for a third time to Zilpoy Johnson on June 28, 1804. This wife outlived Prince Hall who died in 1867.
He may have been buried in Copp's Burial ground next to his first wife. On the Reverse of Sarah's gravestone is carved: "Were lies ye body of Prince Hall First Grand Master of the Coloured Grand Lodge of Masons in Mass. Died Dec. 7, 1807."
Some sources state a belief that this engraving was done several years after his death, disputing his place of burial.
The actual date of Prince Hall's death was 4 December 1807, and his obituary appeared in several Boston newspapers on December 7. An extract from the "Boston Gazette":
"DEATHS, On Friday morning, Mr. Prince Hall, aged 72, Master of the African Lodge. Funeral this afternoon at 3 o'clock from his late dwelling house in Lendell's Lane; which his friends and relatives are requested to attend without a more formal invation."
The subject of the legitimacy of the Prince Hall Lodges has been argued since the first meeting of African Lodge at Boston in 1776. It is as complex as the personalities of the brethren, writers and philosophers of the white and Prince Hall Lodges and Grand Lodges, their religious and geographical heritages, and the two hundred plus years of changes in life styles combined.
For these reasons and a multitude of others, we must guard against a tendency towards over-simplification. Therefore, we shall bring up only a few of the objections most often heard, that the reader may form his own judgements.
- Freeborn versus Free,
- Violation of the "American Doctrine" or "Doctrine of Exclusive Jurisdiction,"
- Prince Hall Lodge, No. 459 was erased by the Grand Lodge of England in 1813-1814.
1. In "THE CHARGES OF A FREE-MASON (1721), Section III OF LODGES, is the following:
"The Persons admitted members of a Lodge must be good and true men, free-born, and of mature and discreet age, no bond- men, no Women, no immoral or scandalous men, but of good Report."
The Grand Lodge of England, in 1845, replaced the word "free-born" with freeman", although it remains "freeborn" in our obligations to this day.
2. Simply put, the "American" Doctrine of Exclusive Jurisdiction is the subordination of All Lodges and the right to ALL potential candidates for Masonry within a jurisdiction (State) to one Grand Lodge. No other Grand Lodge to be formed within nor trespass upon that jurisdiction. This doctrine was unheard of until the formation of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1778. For our purposes, Massachusetts adopted the same philosophy in 1792.
It would be difficult to assume there was a violation of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts' exclusive jurisdiction for two reasons:
First: In 1784, when the Grand Lodge of England warranted African Lodge No. 459, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts did not exist. There was no exclusive jurisdiction to violate.
Second: At the formulation of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, African Lodge, No. 459, was not invited to participate nor become a member of that Grand Body. The African Grand Lodge of North America was ignored when it was formed in 1791. After the death of Prince Hall and the change of name to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, in 1808, there were still no charges of violation to the doctrine of exclusive jurisdiction.
3. In 1813-1814, the two rival Grand Lodges of England, the "Ancients" and the "Moderns" united into the present United Grand Lodge of England. This necessitated the re-numbering of the combined subordinate Lodges. Since the Masons of England put great importance in their Lodge's high position on the registry, lots were drawn to see whether the "Ancients" or "Moderns" would have the coveted "No. 1", then the remainder were allotted alternating numbers. As an additional step in attempting to secure the high numbers, each of the now- united Grand Lodges struck from its rolls every Lodge that was not positively known to be active and/or desiring to remain with the United Grand Lodge of England. This action included every English Lodge in America that had EVER been on the rolls of either Grand Lodge, and many in other countries, including some who did not wish to lose their ties with the Mother Grand Lodge. Some of these Lodges, including African Lodge, did not discover they had been dropped (erased) for several years.
William James Hughan (Voice of Masonry, Nov. 1876) lists some seventy American Lodges, "Modern" and "Ancient" that were removed from the rolls immediately before the union of December 1813.
A book of massive proportions could be compiled in an effort to bring to its readers a chronological listing and explanation of all the petitions, letters, documents and papers that have been prepared in the past two hundred years on the subject of recognition of the Prince Hall Masons by the white Masonic bodies in America.
Some historians and writers have said that Prince Hall began these efforts by approaching Joseph Warren, Provincial Grand Master, at Boston prior to his death at Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. True or not, Warren's death negated that attempt.
In September 1846, a petition from Lewis Hayden, later to be a Grand Master of a Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and others was submitted to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts "praying to be healed and legalized as Masons." At the Annual Communication, December 9; 1841, it was resolved that "the petitioners had concluded to obtain a charter from African Lodge in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, they had leave to withdraw".
When, in 1869, Prince Hall Grand Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for Masonic recognition, they placed before the committee, to which the petition was referred, records to prove the continuity of regular meetings during the years of their existence. The appointed committee refused to examine those records.
At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, 4-7 October 1870, "The Sections 81 and 82 of the Bylaws were debated and finally decided to be expunged from the By-Laws, in order to leave the subordinate Lodges free to exercise their discretion of admitting persons of colour, to visit them or otherwise, as they may in their judgement unanimously decide".
This activity goes on and on through the many Grand Lodge in the United States.
At the Congress of the "Union of Grand Masters" held at Darmstadt, Germany, in 1875, "it was decided to recommend to the German Grand Lodges the recognition of the 'Coloured Lodges of the United States'." This was done and was also recommended to the Grand Bodies of Hungary, Switzerland and Italy.
The Grand Lodge of Ohio received a "proposition to recognize lodges said to exist among the coloured people as legal lodges" in 1874, but postponed any action until the convening of the Annual Communication in 1875. At that time, an assigned committee reported that "they are satisfied beyond all question that Coloured Freemasonry had a legitimate beginning in this Country, as much as any other Freemasonry; in fact, it came from the same source".
The committee offered the following resolution for adoption: "Resolved, * * * * * that this Grand Body will recognize the so-called Grand Lodge of Coloured Free Masons of the State of Ohio as a legitimate and independent Grand Lodge, on Condition that the so-called Coloured Grand Lodge shall change its Constitutional tide, so that it May read as follows: 'The African Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Ohio'."
This recommendation was defeated in the White Grand Lodge by a vote of 390 to 332.
The remarks, in reaction to that defeat of the resolution, Wm. H. Parham, Grand Master of the Coloured Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Ohio are much too long to be included here, but his last paragraph speaks volumes:
"Having been taught among my first lessons in masonry to stand erect as a man, I shall endeavour to continue in that attitude. Whenever recognition and acknowledgement are offered with a humiliating 'condition precedent', I am bound to refuse it. I shall never consent to accept the title of Negro or African Grand Lodge - we are neither, but American citizens with all the term implies. Brethren, you have my position. Here I plant myself and here I will stand, God helping me. I cannot otherwise."
Perhaps one of the most dramatic action/reaction episodes relating to the history of "Quest for Recognition" began at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington in 1897, when a letter was received from Conrad A. Rideout and Gideon S. Bailey, who claimed to be "Free and Accepted Masons of African descent". They prayed that the M.W. Grand Lodge of Washington "devise some way whereby we (the writers of the letter) as true, tried and trusty masons, having been regularly inimated, passed and raised, can be brought into communication with, and enjoy the fraternal confidence of the members of the Craft in this State".
A committee consisting of Past Masters Thomas M. Reed and James E. Edmiston and Deputy Grand Master William H. Upton was formed to study the request and report to the Grand Lodge in June 1898. The report was duly prepared and submitted. A very simplified summary of the resolutions is as follows:
- That Masonry is universal and neither race nor colour are among the tests to determine the fitness of a candidate for the degrees of Masonry.
- That the Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to deny or question the right of Constituent lodges, or the members thereof, to recognize as brother masons, negroes who have been initiated in Lodges which can trace their origin to Prince Hall Lodge, No. 459, organized under Warrant issued by the Grand Lodge of England in 1784.
- That this Grand Lodge recognizes no difference between brethren based on race or colour but is aware of the proclivity of the races, in social matters, to remain separate and apart. For this reason, this Grand Lodge deems it to be in the best interest of Masonry, if the Masons of African descent so desire, to establish Lodges confined wholly to the brethren of that race. Said Lodges to be established in strict accordance to the Landmarks of Masonry and Masonic Law. If, in time, these Lodges were to find it necessary to form a Grand Lodge for better administration, said establishment would not be considered an invasion of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington.
- That the Grand Secretary be instructed to forward a copy of the printed Proceedings of the Annual Communication to Mr. Hideout and Mr. Bailey as a response to their communication.
Before the Grand Lodge Proceedings had been returned from the printers, the Associated Press, it is said, had the news on the wires to the East. The headlines of the Eastern newspapers told the world that the Grand Lodge of Washington had recognized Negro Masonry; without including any of the qualifying details contained in the resolutions.
The Grand Lodge of New York was the first of nineteen (19) Grand Jurisdictions to terminate Masonic relations with the Grand Lodge of Washington. West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Nevada, Wyoming and Louisiana followed in that order.
The Worshipful Master of one of the Lodges in Seattle, for some unknown reason, took it upon himself to write letters to, apparently, all the jurisdictions requesting telegraphic responses to the actions of the Grand Lodge of Washington. Twenty-eight responses were returned with remarks ranging from "Our Grand Lodge refrained from action against Washington, having full confidence that our Washington brethren would correct their serious error upon sober reflection" from the Grand Master of Kansas to "Washington's course has abrogated the whole system of American Grand Lodge sovereignty. It must destroy harmony and produce confusion and anarchy. Bring Washington back" from the Grand Master of South Carolina.
A Special Committee, consisting of seven Past Grand Masters, was formed and reported at the Grand Communication in June 1899. In that report was included a "Declaration" in response to several requests from the M.W. Grand Lodges of Maryland, Rhode Island, Virginia, Utah, Massachusetts and Maine concerning the adoption of the four Resolutions, relating to Negro Masonry, at the Communication of 1898.
The Declaration consists of ten (10) sections and, for the purpose of this paper, it is unnecessary to quote them in their entirety. Thusly:
SECOND, That it trusts its sister Grand Lodges appreciate the fact that these requests are presented to it at a time when it is facing attacks upon its autonomy and sovereignty which, if successful, would result not only in its destruction of its Masonic independence, but, ultimately, in the abrogation of that principle of local self-government, subject to the Landmarks only, which had prevailed among Masons from time immemorial; and that these assaults are connected with the resolutions to which our good brethren allude, this Grand Lodge would hardly be blameworthy if it declined - so long as an enemy is at its gate breathing threatenings and slaughter to take any step that might be construed as a concession to threats, or that might encourage similar attacks upon it or upon others, in the future.
FOURTH, That accordingly it has carefully reconsidered its said action and resolutions of last year, with the results stated below.
FIFTH, That this Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to modify in any respect the first of said resolutions, but reaffirms the same.
SIXTH, That it is manifest to this Grand Lodge that the second of is said resolutions, while entirely clear to all the members of this jurisdiction, has been generally misunderstood elsewhere; and, in particular, that latter part of it has been erroneously understood to accord recognition to certain organizations incidentally mentioned therein. Therefore, with the hope of removing all misunderstanding, and satisfying every reasonable objection, said resolution is hereby repealed. And whereas, the relations of the Grand Lodge of Washington with the present M.W. United Grand Lodge of England during the whole existence of this Grand Lodge have been and now are of the most fraternal and cordial character; in view of this and other circumstances, including its own descent, the comity due from one Masonic body to another, and its duty to preserve harmony among its own members, this Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to deny or question the right of its Constituent Lodges or of members thereof to recognize as a brother Masons any man (otherwise in good Masonic standing) who has been regularly initiated into Masonry by authority derived, regularly, and strictly in accordance with the laws of the Masonic Institution, from the United Grand Lodge of England or from either of the two Grand Lodges which joined in forming that United Grand Lodge in 1813, so long as the regularity of such initiations remains unquestioned by the United Grand Lodge of England; provided, always, that such initiation conflict with no law of the Masonic Institution, and that the old Landmarks be carefully preserved.
SEVENTH, That whereas, the third of said resolutions has been widely - though erroneously, as this Grand Lodge believes - supposed to encourage the establishment of a second Grand Lodge within the State of Washington; and whereas, it appears to be open to the objection of pledging this Grand Lodge to a course in future years which may not be consistent with the judgement of the brethren composing the Grand Lodge; and whereas, this Grand Lodge is not insistent upon any one plan for dealing with the matter to which this resolution relates, but is willing to consider any plan that may preserve harmony and subserve the ends of truth and justice; and whereas, the publication of that resolution for one year has served - with our own members and with all by whom the meaning was intended was understood - all necessary purposes, and its further publication might lead to further misapprehensions; therefore it is for now,
RESOLVED, That said third resolution be repealed.
The report elicited but brief discussion, and on motion, was adopted by the Grand Lodge with only two dissenting votes.
The last of the Grand Lodges who had ceased Masonic correspondence with the Grand Lodge of Washington did not return to the fold until 1907. Still the search for recognition by the Prince Hall masons continues.
Other efforts by concerned members of regular Lodges, not all by any means, include California in 1875 and 1878; Massachusetts who approved recognition in 1947 and rescinded it in 1949; Wisconsin in 1979 and continuing through 1985; none of which at this writing have been successful. The reluctance of Prince Hall Masons to surrender their traditions and identity in a much larger organization seems to render solutions by way of recognition or merger difficult to attain.
In Closing, I would like to quote the Creed of the Prince Hall Masons.
I believe in God, Grand Architect of the Universe, the Alpha of the unreckoned yesterdays, the Omega of the impenetrable tomorrows, the beginning and the ending. I believe in man, potentially God's other half, often faltering in his way upwards, but irrepressible in the urge to scale Annapurnas*. I believe in Freemasonry, that corporate venture in Universal brotherhood, despising kinship with no child of the All-father. I believe in Prince Hall Freemasonry, a door of benevolence, securely tiled against the unworthy, but opening wide to men of good report, Whether Aryan or Hottentot. I believe in Masonic vows - the truth of true men plighted to their better selves."
* Annapurna, one of the principal massifs of the Himalayas and one of the highest in the world, situated in North Central Nepal. Thirty-five miles long consisting of two peaks, one 26,502 feet high, the other 26,041 feet. Scaled for the first time in 1950 by Maurice Herzog, a French mountaineer.
- The Charges of a Freemason, Section III, of Lodges, 1721, Washington Masonic Code, 1913.
- The Voice of Masonry - Negro Admissions, 1870.
- The Michigan Freemason, February, 1874.
- The New England Freemason, November 1875.
- The Masonic Review, January, March, July & October 1876, January 1878.
- The Voice of Masonry, September 1875, April & July 1876.
- "Tribute of Respect to the Memory of a Coloured Mason" - Editorial - Masonic Monthly, San Francisco, September 1879.
- Proceedings, Grand Lodge of Washington. "Coloured Masonry", Thomas S. Reed, P.G.M., 1876.
- Foreign Correspondence - Minnesota, 1877.
- Report of Masonic Correspondence for the year ending June, 12, 1889.
- Report on Correspondence - Supplement.
- "Masonry Among the Negroes", Wm. H. Upton, P.M. 1895.
- Negro Masonry - A Committee Report, 1898.
- "A Critical Examination of Objections to the Legitimacy of the Masonry Existing Among the Negroes of America", By William H. Upton, G.M., 1899.
- Report on Negro Masonry, 1839.
- Negro Masonry in the United States, Harold V.B. Voorhis, 1949.
- Negro Freemasonry in America, Marshall E. Gordon, P.M.
- Walter F. Meier Lodge of Research, No. 281, F.& A.M. Proceedings, Grand Lodge of Washington.
- Foreign Correspondence - Wisconsin. 1981, 1982 & 1983.
- Seattle's Black Victorians, 1852 - 1901, by Elizabeth Hall Mumford, Anansi Press, Seattle WA, 98122.
- Black Square & Compass, 200 Years of Prince Hall Masonry by Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., Revised Edition, 1981.
- A Prince Hall Quiz Book, Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., 1984.
- The Phylaxis, A Prince Hall Magazine, Vol. 6, No.4, 4th Quarter, 1980 & Vol. 13, 1st Quarter, 1987.