Let me set the stage for you.
THE YEAR is 2004
THE PLACE, Houston Texas
THE SUBJECT Prince Hall Freemasonry
Brother Nelson King the President of the Philalethes Society has come from his home in Toronto, Canada to Houston, Texas to deliver the Seventh Annual Sam Houston Lecture. His arrival to talk about Prince Hall Freemasonry has generated numerous death threats and he deems it wise to hire bodyguards. This would be the first time PHA Masons were allowed inside a Texas Lodge building.
Later the Grand Master of the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas was to ban the Philalethes Society from the state of Texas. Texas was to have the unique distinction of being the only state in the Union to not allow the Philalethes Society within its borders. Whether it was the actions of the Dallas Chapter of the Philalethes Society inviting a Prince Hall Mason to address it and having women in the lobby of the hotel where they met or whether it was this lecture that precipitated such a harsh and severe censorship against The Philalethes Society we do not know.
What we do know is that the truth shall set you free!
NOTE: SOME OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS LECTURE IS OLD AND DATED OR EVEN OUTDATED.
THE SEVENTH ANNUAL
SAM HOUSTON LECTURE
Nelson King, FPS, BF
Editor The Philalethes Society
Black and White
A History of
BLACK AND WHITE
For more than two centuries Prince Hall Freemasonry has been the most lied about
organization in the world. Caucasian or Mainstream Freemasonry has misstated the
facts about it; Black Freemasons and their supporters have exaggerated its history and
It should be noted The Philalethes Society printed the first article declaring Prince Hall
Masonry as regular in 1947, yes 1947 some 50 years before the United Grand Lodge of
England did. The Philalethes Society is the oldest and largest Masonic Research
Society in the World having members within 185 Regular Grand Lodges, including the
only Grand Lodge in a Communist Country and the only Grand Lodge within a Muslim
Country. --- Cuba and Turkey. And yes we do, it seems, to upset some Grand Bodies,
and Grand Masters, but then we are trying to make Masons think. And it is in some
cases it is a darn hard job.
To date 37 US Grand Lodges have either fully recognized Prince Hall Grand Lodges or
declared Prince Hall as Regular. The Grand Lodges of England, Scotland, Ireland and
Australia have recognized Prince Hall. All but 2 Grand Lodges and Provincial Grand
Lodges in Canada have recognized Prince Hall and all have declared Prince Hall Grand
Lodges as Regular. My Grand Lodge the Gran Logia de Costa Rica has recognized
Prince Hall. I should mention that I am talking about Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges,
not Prince Hall Origin Grand Lodges or any of the over 220 plus Black Grand Lodges in
the United States. My Brethren it is time to join hands with a body of men who were
proud of their heritage as Prince Hall Masons; as proud as we are to be Freemasons.
Some continue to quote, or use as arguments, misstatements of the past that have long
We first hear that Prince Hall was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, B.W.I. His father
Thomas Prince Hall was an English leather worker, and his mother, a free colored
woman of French extraction. To date there has never been any proof of the birth place,
or who the parents of Prince Hall where, there has only been speculation.
But who was this Prince Hall? Prince Hall seems to have always referred to himself as
an ‘African'. And probably with some pride for, in my view, he was an African, having
been seized in some part of West Africa as a lad of between eleven and fourteen and
brought to New England by a slave-trader and sold as a slave. It is not impossible that
he was actually sold to William Hall and it is also likely that he took the ‘Hall' from the
family which he served so faithfully for twenty-one years. This is impossible to prove but
is, I submit, a likely inference.
There is no doubt that Prince Hall was, as the official story says, ‘religiously inclined' -
but the facts are not as recorded in the Prince Hall Masonic Year Book. In a Deposition,
which is recorded in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Register of Deeds, made by
Prince Hall in August 1807, just a few months before he died, he stated that he was a
leather-dresser by trade; that he was 'about seventy'; that in November 1762 he had
been received into the full communion of the Congregational Church which had its
meeting place in School Street, Boston.
Prince Hall married five times - according to the official records of the City of Boston.
Prince Hall is buried in Copp's Hill Burying Ground in Boston in the same grave as his
first wife. The monumental stone carries the inscription:
Here lies ye body of Sarah Ritchery, wife of Prince Hall, died Feby the 26th, 1769, aged
On the back of the stone, added some time later, is the inscription:
Here lies the body of Prince Hall, First Grand Master of the Colored Grand Lodge of
Masons in Mass., died Dec 7, 1807.
Whoever cut this last inscription took as the date of death the date of the announcement
in the newspaper (7 December) and not the actual date of death (4 December). It is a
little curious that Prince Hall should be buried in the grave of his first wife; one would
have thought that his last wife might have had other ideas, but perhaps Prince Hall
owned the plot in the cemetery. This cannot be checked for the interment records are
As an individual, Prince Hall took a great interest in the welfare of the African-American
people in Boston and in Massachusetts. He continually badgered the city fathers of
Boston and also the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts in respect of the proper provision of schools for the education of the
children of the African-American population.
We then hear the initiation of Prince Hall and fourteen other men of color was illegal...
There were fourteen military lodges in and around Boston in 1775. Of these one was
English, four were Scottish and the remainder were Irish. There seems to be very little
doubt, having consulted the Grand Lodge Registers that Irish Lodge No. 441, in which
Sergeant John Batt was a member, was the lodge in which Prince Hall was initiated.
John Batt is registered as a member of Lodge 441 in the register in Dublin under the
date of 2 May 1771.
Lodge 441 was warranted on 4 July 1765 to meet in the 38th Regiment of Foot (1st
Battalion South Staffordshires). The lodge warrant was subsequently, in 1840, returned
to the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The number 441 was later, in 1918, reissued to the T.W.
Braithwaite Lodge, meeting in Belfast.
The initiation of Prince Hall and fourteen other men of color took place in Boston in the
Colony of Massachusetts on March 6 1775. The presiding officer was one John Blatt of
this Irish Military Lodge No. 441.
If these men were illegal Masons, what constituted a legal Mason prior to the formation
of the Grand Lodge system in the USA? There were none before 1778 when the Grand
Lodge of Virginia was instituted. Before then there were Provincial Grand Lodges--
several of them. In Massachusetts there were two such bodies. One held allegiance to
the "Modern" Grand Lodge of England; the other, the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
Studying the works of Henry Wilson Coil, Melvin Maynard Johnson, J. Hugo Tatsch,
Harry Carr and many others we find there were hundreds of "illegal" Masons in the early
days of Freemasonry in America. For example, the members of the lodge that met in
Philadelphia in 1731 (and perhaps earlier) made Masons. Was Benjamin Franklin, who
was made a Mason in this lodge, illegal or a clandestine Mason? What about the
legality of the organizers of the lodge that was formed in Boston in the Colony of
Massachusetts in 1733? The Lodge at Fredericksburgh in the Colony of Virginia came
into being with a slate of officers on September 1, 1752. Where were those men illegal
or a clandestine Masons?
When or where did the eminent compiler of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons,
[better known as the Antient Charges] James Anderson, who in 1731 received the
degree of D.D., become a Freemason? No one knows. He was, however, a member of
the Lodge at the Horn, Westminster, in 1723. This was the year of the adoption of the
Constitutions. And he was far from being in the minority.
These were the men who gave us Freemasonry in USA and England. If they were
illegal or clandestine Masons, as the critics’ claim the men of color were, then most of
us are illegally claiming to be Freemasons. As I understand the law, an illegal act
cannot be made legal.
Some claim African Lodge which the men of color formed was illegal. Was it? We
proudly proclaim the supremacy of the Grand Lodge of England. It was the Grand
Lodge of England that granted a Warrant on September 29, 1784 for African Lodge No.
459, and this Warrant is still in existence. This Warrant is identical to other Warrants
issued by the Grand Lodge of England, with the only changes the names to whom it
was issued and the location of the Lodge. A copy of the wording of this Warrant and is
an addendum to this paper.
Who gave the Lodge in Philadelphia a Warrant before it came into existence? And let's
return to the Lodge at Fredericksburgh, now Fredericksburgh No.4, in Virginia. This
unwarranted lodge initiated Major George Washington on November 4, 1752, the first
time it conferred a degree. It went even further. It Passed him a Fellowcraft on March 3
and on August 4, 1753 he was Raised a Master Mason. It was July 21, 1758, five years
later, before the Grand Lodge of Scotland gave it a Warrant making it a "legal" lodge.
Who among us dares to claim Washington was a clandestine Mason?
Yet others say African Lodge had no right to Warrant other lodges and form a Grand
Lodge. Again let's return to the Lodge at Fredericksburgh. It warranted two lodges:
Falmouth and Botetourt. Botetourt and Fredericksburgh helped form the Grand Lodge of
Virginia, and both are still in existence. What did the only lodge in Massachusetts do after 1733? Didn't it form a Provincial Grand Lodge and then Warrant other lodges, and not only in Massachusetts? Whyshould African Lodge be refused the same privilege?
We also hear that African Lodge was erased by the United Grand Lodge of England;
therefore whether or not it remained a lodge is moot. This is partially true. After the two
rival Grand Lodges in England ("Antients" and "Moderns") were united by two blood
brothers who became Grand Masters, African Lodge was erased from the roster. So
was every lodge in America still on the roles of either of the rival Grand Lodges. This
included about half of the lodges in Massachusetts! Has any critic dared claim all other
American lodges erased from the roster of the United Grand Lodge of England are
We hear that Exclusive Jurisdiction is world wide and must be observed. Nothing could
be further from the truth. Any researcher worth receiving Master's Wages can point out
numerous exceptions to this statement. The Grand Lodges of Scotland, Ireland and
England have many lodges working side by side in many countries. What about
Massachusetts with lodges in Panama, Chile, and Japan? Then there's New York with
lodges it had in Lebanon. Then we have the Grand Lodges of Washington and Alaska.
Exclusive jurisdiction, ironically, was a creature of the Grand Lodge of New York (not
Massachusetts as is generally believed. It's exclusively an American invention.
Shouldn't universality reach out to all men of good will?
We are told African Lodge was dormant for a number of years. Perhaps! But so were
numerous other lodges. Research the anti-Masonic craze beginning in 1826. Check out
the vast number of lodges giving up their charters. Hundreds of them came back into
the fold with no condemnation. Why should they be privileged and African Lodge not?
"Prince Hall Grand Lodge declared itself free from all authority in 1827." The first to so
declare in this country was Virginia in 1778. Others followed. Why aren't they
condemned and declared illegitimate?
We also hear that Prince Hall only accepts Christians and Black Men as members;
nothing could be further from the Truth. One quick example is that the SGW of the Most
Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ontario is Caucasian. And I have sat in open
Lodge with Prince Hall Masons of every color and creed.
At the start of this presentation I said “I am talking about Prince Hall Affiliated Grand
Lodges, not Prince Hall Origin Grand Lodges or any of the over 200 plus Black Grand
Lodges in the United States.” Many of these so called Grand Lodges also use the name
Prince Hall. Some are called Prince Hall Origin. My Brethren these are not Regular
Grand Lodges and are not Recognized. Only those Prince Hall Grand Lodges who are
Known as Prince Hall Affiliate are Regular, and are members of the Prince Hall
Conference Of Grand Masters, 1901 11th Street, NW, Washington Dc, 20001. It is
interesting to note that PHA Masons refer to the “others” as bogus masons. In fact there
are number of this “bogus” Grand Lodges in Texas and they are:
1. St. John's Grand Lodge AF&AM, Inc. (TX)
2. Alpha Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
3. Sunset Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
4. St. Joseph Grand Lodge (Colored) AF&AM (TX)
5. King Solomon Grand Lodge (Colored) AF&AM (TX)
6. King Solomon United Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
7. Dozo Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
8. United Most Worshipful Scottish Rite Grand Lodge, Inc. (TX)
9. Universal Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
10. Mount Carmel Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
11. Mount Sinai Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
12. Hiram Tyrar Grand Lodge AF&AM (TX)
And there may be more. There is only one Regular PHA Grand Lodge in Texas, and it
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas F&AM
2851 Evans Ave. Fort Worth, Texas 76104
My Brethren, any Masonic organization that has stood the test of time, [220 years] must
be considered legitimate.
My thanks to my late mentor, Allen Roberts, for parts of this address have been copied
Over the last number of years it has become my custom to close with the following.
Brethren I would like all of you to stand now I would like you to turn to the Brother
beside you and grasp his hand with the Grip of a Mason.
Now I want you to ask yourself how many Masons would you trust with your life savings,
your home, your family's well being, and even your life, on that Grip.
If you are honest, the answers will be "not many" or "very few" or even "I can count on
one hand the number that I would trust." Why even some of you, will say to yourself "not
Well my Brethren, it never used to be like this. What a shame that Freemasonry has
sunk so low. It is up to each and every one of you to help bring Freemasonry back to
her former glory.
Thank you and God Bless.
ADDENDUM No. 1
TO ALL AND EVERY our Right Worshipful & loving Brethren, we Thomas Howard,
Earl of Effingham, Lord Howard, etc. etc. etc., Acting Grand Master under
the authority of His Royal Highness, Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland etc.
etc. etc., Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free
and Accepted Masons, sends greeting:
KNOW YE, that we, at the humble petition of our right trusty and well-beloved, Brethren,
Prince Hall, Boston Smith, Thomas Sanderson and several other Brethren residing in
Boston, New England in North America do hereby constitute the said Brethren into a
regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title or denomination of the
African Lodge, to be opened in Boston aforesaid, and do further at their said petition,
hereby appoint the said Prince Hall to be Master, Boston Smith, Senior Warden, and
Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden, for opening the said Lodge, and for such further
time only as shall be thought proper by the Brethren thereof, it being our will that this
our appointment of the officers shall in now wise affect any future election of officers of
the Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated agreeable to such by-laws of said
Lodge as shall be consistent with the general laws of the society, contained in the Book
of Constitution: and we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, to take special
care that all and every the said Brethren are or have been regularly made Masons, and
that they do observe, perform and keep all the rules and orders contained in the Book of
Constitutions; and further, that you do, from time to time, cause to be entered in a book
kept for that purpose, an account of your proceedings in the Lodge, together with all
such rules, orders and regulations, as shall be made for the good government of the
same, that in no wise you omit once in every year to send to us, or our successors,
Grand Masters, or to Rowland Holt, Esq,. Our Deputy Grand Master, for the time being
an account in writing of your said proceedings and copies of such rules, orders and
regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with a list of the members of the
Lodge, and such a sum of money as may suit the circumstances of the Lodge and
reasonably be expected, toward the Grand Charity. Moreover, we hereby will and
require you, the said Prince Hall, as soon as conveniently may be, to send an account
in writing of what may be done by virtue of these presents.
Given at London, under our hand
and seal of Masonry, this 29th
day of September, A .L. 5784,
A. D. 1784.
"By the Grand Master's Command,
R. Holt, D. G. M."
Wm. White, G. S."
Dear Brother Milliken:
We will gladly give you permission to publish on the Internet the copyright article from The Philalethes Magazine©, The Philalethes CD-Rom© or web sites providing the following:
A. That credit is given to the author.
B. It is noted that the article is reprinted from The Philalethes, with permission.
C. That the copyright notice attached to the article is displayed with the article.
Sincerely and fraternally,
Nelson King, FPS
2 Knockbolt Crescent
Toronto ON Canada M1S 2P6