Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prince Hall Myths, Legends and Facts

complied by Aubrey Brown, MPS, Kevin Gembarosky MPS, David Gray, MPS, Nelson King, FPS.
The late Allen E. Roberts wrote "For more than two centuries Prince Hall Freemasonry has been the most lied about
organization in the world. Caucasian Freemasonry has misstated the facts about it; Black Freemasons and their
supporters have exaggerated its history and its hierarchy." We will dispel those myths, legends and lies.

MYTH: 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.
FACT: To date there has never been any proof of the birth place, or who the parents of Prince Hall where. To date there
has only been speculation.

MYTH: The Initiation of Prince Hall and fourteen other men of color was illegal.
FACT: What constituted a legal Mason prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge system in 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, where were 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? No of course not.

MYTH: African Lodge which the men of color formed was illegal.
FACT: Freemason's 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.

MYTH: African Lodge had no right to warrant other lodges and form a Grand Lodge.
FACT: Let us look at the Lodge at Fredericksburgh VA. It warranted two lodges: Falmouth and Botetourt. Those Lodges
helped form the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and both are still in existence. What did the only lodge in Massachusetts do
after 1733? Did it not form a Provincial Grand Lodge and then warrant other lodges, and not only in Massachusetts? Why
should African Lodge be refused the same privilege?

MYTH: African Lodge's Warrant did not give them the right to Make Masons.
FACT: Africa Lodge No. 459's Warrant was no different from any other Warrant issued by the Grand Lodge of England.
Below is a copy of that Warrant.
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.
Freemasonry Powered by Joomla! Generated: 31 August, 2008, 07:36
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."

MYTH: African Lodge was erased by the United Grand Lodge of England.
FACT: 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 clandestine?

MYTH: African Lodge was dormant for a number of years and therefore is illegal.
FACT: 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?

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges are not Regular:.
FACT: Prince Hall Freemasons as do all Regular Freemasons adhere to the "landmarks".
I. its Brethren must believe in a Supreme Being [the GAOTU];
II. Obligations must be taken on or in full view of the VSL.;
III. it must display the three Great Lights of Freemasonry when it or its Lodges are open;
IV. discussion of religion and politics in its Lodges must be prohibited, and
V. its membership must be male, and it must have nothing to do with mixed or women's Lodges.

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges only accept men of color, and "Mainstream" Grand Lodges only accept Caucasian men.
I. John Pine, a black Freemason, who in 1769 designed the frontispiece for Anderson's Constitutions.
II. Canadian Grand Master by the name of Charles Lightfoot Roman, Grand Lodge of Quebec, was a black Freemason.
III. The proceedings of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, 1871 provide us a record of a Lodge
of German Jews working under the authority of this Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
IV. Alpha Lodge No. 116, F. & A. M. Grand Lodge of New Jersey [Mainstream] is comprised of Black Masons.
V. The United Grand Lodge of England, The Grand Lodge of Scotland, and The Grand Lodge of Ireland have had
Provincial Grand Lodges through out the world, and their membership is not restricted by color.

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges only accept men who are Christians.
FACT: This is a question of Regularity. Since it has already been determined that Prince Hall Lodges are Regular, for us
to practice or teach this would be against the Ancient Landmarks of our order. [see Landmarks above] In 1787, Prince
Hall forwarded a copy of "The General Regulations of the African Lodge to D.G.M. Roland Holt in London, with the very
first item declaring, "… yet at the same time allow every man to join his own religion so that they be men of Honour
and Freeborn."

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges have women members.
FACT: The would be a violation of the Landmarks and Prince Hall Affiliated Freemasons adhere to the Ancient
Landmarks [see Landmarks above]

MYTH: Prince Hall Lodges have sexual orgies in the Lodge Room
FACT: Again this would be a violation of the Landmarks. [see Landmarks above] It is unfortunate that there exist in this
world spurious and even out right clandestine organizations who dare travel under the name of Freemasonry and use the
most immoral and un-Masonic acts in her name and in the name of Prince Hall.

MYTH: William Harry Grimshaw's, "Negro Freemasonry... " and books that quote this book are a reliable source for
information about Prince Hall Freemasonry.
FACT: Grimshaw's purpose was sound when he wrote this book. Grimshaw theorized and wrote what had been handed
down to him from years of word of mouth teaching. Unfortunately, his theories and teaching were corrupted. An accurate
comparison would be the ritual, which has developed in North America. There is no question that word of mouth rituals
are not the same ritual dictated to Ben Franklin.

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges have chartered Lodges in other Grand Lodges' Jurisdictions.
FACT: Prince Hall Grand Lodges have chartered military Lodges in Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Korea to name a few.
The traditional act of chartering a Lodge to service members traveling abroad is well recorded in Masonic history. This
has been a practice in Freemasonry since the very beginning of the rebirth in 1717. United Grand Lodge of England, The
Grand Lodge of Scotland, The Grand Lodge of Ireland, and many other "mainstream" Grand Lodges have Charted
Lodges though out the world in other Grand Lodges' Jurisdictions.

MYTH: Prince Hall Masons intermingle politics and Masonry.
FACT: Again this would be a violation of the Landmarks [see Landmarks above] However, it is only natural that many
prominent black politicians are or have been Prince Hall Masons. Prince Hall Masons by nature are inclined to be
involved in their communities, and this extends to the political working. This is done as individuals and not as masons.
Prince Hall Masonry has had within it's membership some of the preeminent Blacks in politics. The lists includes such
notables as Harold Washington, Chicago; Thomas Bradley, Los Angeles; Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta;
all former mayors. Douglass Wilder, the first black elected governor, Thurgood Marshal, and Jesse Jackson, to name a

MYTH: Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not enjoy full recognition from their Caucasian counterparts.
FACT: Most Prince Hall Grand Lodges and their neighboring Regular counterparts do in fact enjoy full recognition. Most
of the misunderstanding perhaps is due to the fact that Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not allow dual or plural
memberships. This means that members of recognized Grand Lodges can't join as full members. Some Prince Hall
Grand Lodges allow honorary memberships. These have a number of their "Mainstream" counterparts as honorary
members. Most Prince Hall Grand Lodges do allow their members to belong to Research Lodges. Many Prince Hall
Masons belong to national and state Research Lodges.

MYTH: Prince Hall Masonry does not contribute to charitable activities.
FACT: All branches of Prince Hall Freemasonry support charitable activities. From individual lodges to the Prince Hall
Conference of Grand Masters, The Supreme Councils [ SJ & NJ], To the Shrine. Prince Hall Masonry has contributed
millions of dollars in such charitable activities as scholarships and medical aid and research.

MYTH: All Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges are Regular.
FACT: Not all Regular Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges are titled as such. The Regular Prince Hall Grand Lodge in the
state of Mississippi is, The Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge, F.& A.M. [Prince Hall Affiliated]. The Regular Prince
Hall Grand Lodge in the state of Florida is, The Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, PHA.
There are irregular Black Grand Lodges in both these states using the title of Prince Hall Grand Lodge. There are also
other such outfits operating around the country. They will usually delineate somewhere in there title Prince Hall Origin.

MYTH: Prince Hall Masonry has never bothered to take Irregular Black Grand Lodges to court.
FACT: There is a long history of Prince Hall Grand Lodges taking irregular Black Masonic bodies to court. In many of
these cases, their Caucasian counterparts, have filed "Friend of the Court" briefs supporting the Prince Hall Grand
Lodge's stance. In fact, Prince Hall Masonry has taken every major black Masonic body to court in one state or another
and has won injunctive relief in all such cases. These suits span back as far as the 20's and include such bodies as, The
Internationals or Banks Organization, The Most Worshipful Universal Grand Lodge; also known as the John G. Jones
Grand Lodges, and the John A. Bell Grand Lodges. Virtually all major irregular bodies are the offspring to one of the
afore mentioned bodies. There are of course numerous smaller bodies that spring up virtually over night without any
governing body. Today Prince Hall Masonry for the most part, has chosen to use it's funds for the betterment of the
community as opposed to costly legal battles.

MYTH: The Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters has never or only recently embraced its Caucasian counterparts.
FACT: Even before recognitions, Prince Hall Grand Masters have met, worked with, and received their Caucasian
counterparts in informal as well as formal and public Masonic events. There is documentation going back to 1970 stating
the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters received such prominent members as the Grand Master of Mass. AF&AM,
and the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, N.J. at it's meeting.

MYTH: Prince Hall and its Caucasian counterparts have only recently began to meet formally.
FACT: There is much documentation showing that the two bodies have often met formally as far back as 1923 when the
two Supreme Councils [N.J.] met. This meeting resulted in the Prince Hall body deciding to change its name to United
Supreme Council and add the suffix, Prince Hall Affiliated to it's name to distinguish the two. After the meeting, the
Supreme Council [N.J.] Caucasian, issued the following press release.
Offer of "Informal Co-operation"
Boston, Mass. Sept. 22, 1923
An offer of "informal co-operation" was extended last Wednesday by the Supreme Council A. A. S. R. Masons Northern
Masonic Jurisdiction in session in this city to the United Supreme Council [Prince Hall Affiliated] representing Negroes in
the United States. Although no official recognition was adopted by the convention, the Supreme Council voted it's policy
of co-operation after hearing a report of the legal aspects of the situation arising from the similarity in the names of the
two organizations which existed until recently. The United Supreme Council changed its name in order to distinguish it
from the organization meeting here. In appreciation of this action and to put itself on record of racial toleration the Council
decided to adopt an attitude of co-operation that was generally felt would be advantageous both for the Negroes and the
community at large.
The work of the two organizations is said to be approximately the same and the colored fraternity which is chartered in
Pennsylvania is the Grand East for this organization.
These two bodies met again on May 19, 1944 in New York City where a similar resolution was made. The key addition
made at this time was the Supreme Council acknowledging that the Prince Hall bodies were legally descended from the
Grand Lodge of England and Regular in all Masonic aspects.

Copyright ©2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 The Philalethes Society. All Rights Reserved

Dear Brother Milliken:

We will gladly give you permission to reprint 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 a copy of your publication is forwarded to the Editor.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Nelson King, FPS


2 Knockbolt Crescent

Toronto ON Canada M1S 2P6

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