Thursday, August 20, 2015

Addressing Mr. Hawkins and the John G. Jones Epidemic by Bro. John L. Hairston, Editor



Please take time to watch the video by Mr. Hawkins, a clandestine member of the John G. Jones group out of California.

This video represents the new angle in which the African American clandestine groups attempt to debate the issue of their illegal Grand Lodges nation-wide.

Mr. Hawkins has also written a history of John G. Jones which is filled with misinformation and errors concerning John G. Jones and the many groups that have spun off from his Masonic crime.



The first issue raised by Mr. Hawkins is the Phylaxis Society's list of Bogus groups being all African American oriented. This is the new tactic used by African American clandestine groups-use race as a means of convicting Prince Hall Masons of discrimination or reversed racism.

Yes, the majority of groups listed are African American groups. The Phylaxis Society, Commission on Bogus Masonry is focused on exposing bogus masonry wherever it is found, but more specifically the African American community, because it directly affects Prince Hall Grand Lodges. I would direct any reader or researcher to the "Walkes Site", and to read the works of the founder, Hon. Joseph A. Walkes. His work would provide an accurate view of the philosophy and work of the Phylaxis. What Mr. Hawkins is viewing is the Phylaxis addressing an epidemic in the African American community. Because Prince Hall Lodges and Grand Lodges receive the vast majority of their membership from our own communities, it becomes imperative to make sure that these prospective candidates have all of the necessary information to identify what is regular and what is clandestine in their community. 

What we do not hear in the video, made by Hawkins, is evidence that his group, the John G. Jones Grand Lodge of California, doesn't deserve to be listed with the other groups. He attempts to use race as a reason that African American groups shouldn't be listed. He doesn't refute the fact that his group is clandestine, but would rather point to the fact that they are all African American. In other words, he knows that his group is clandestine, but complains that the Phylaxis Society is guilty of reversed racism.

He states that we would not dare put a "white" Grand Lodge on the list, that is addressing African American clandestine groups.

I challenge Mr. Hawkins to provide evidence that his group or ANY John G. Jones group do not deserve to be listed.

Prove that John G. Jones was a legitimate source of lineage for any group.

His issue should be that white Lodges are not listed, but rather, HIS IS LISTED.

I challenge him to produce a video providing the history of his group, and provide credible and authentic sources that his group is a legitimate group. I think Mr. Hawkins should be more focused on putting his group in the position to be able to sit at the table with Prince Hall masons. The race card will not change the status and present condition of his Bogus group. Even is the Phylaxis was to add every white bogus group, it would not make his group legal or lawful; the John G. Jones Grand Lodge of California would still be Bogus.

Mr. Hawkins, please provide us with the proof that your own group doesn't deserve to be on the listing.




Sunday, August 2, 2015

Debunking Mis-Story: Reevaluating the "Article 7 Myth" by Brother John L. Hairston, Editor

On April 14, 2015 a post was made to the Prince Hall Origin blog entitled, Article 7: The Prince Hall Myth, which stated as its introduction:


"All Grand Lodges with lineage to the Old African Lodge No. 459, MUST trace their lineage through the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Ancient York Masons Prince Hall Origin – National Compact USA. This position has been the premise of debate amongst many African American Masonic scholars in print and social media. The opponents of this position have “revised” history to justify the opposite of this position. This post is a brief examination of the “myth” perpetuated by modern PHA Scholars as an attempt to distance themselves from their Prince Hall Origin “roots”.[1: emphasis mine]



It is the object of this article to evaluate and examine the position of this article in light of factual history and the correct interpretation of the documentation. We will point out the errors, present the refutation supported by the historical documentation; it is our hopes that the author of the article will either present more valid support or make the necessary corrections to the article.

ERROR #1




All Grand Lodges with lineage to the Old African Lodge No. 459, MUST trace their lineage through the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Ancient York Masons Prince Hall Origin – National Compact USA



This is truly an erroneous statement by the author. We do know for a fact that during the time of the formation of the National Grand Lodge and Compact, at least two Grand Lodges do not have to trace its existence through the National Grand Lodge: United Grand Lodge of the State of New York and The First Colored Grand Lodge of Maryland.



I know that the author will attempt to state that the subordinate Lodges of these Grand Lodges came under the National Grand Lodge, so their roots are in the National Grand Lodge. But let's actually look at this proposition and see if it can be forwarded as substantial evidence to stand on.



Boyer Lodge No. 1 of New York received its charter directly from African Grand Lodge of Boston in June of 1827:


Source: Minutes of Grand African Lodge, June 27, 1827


The other three subordinate lodges-Celestial Lodge, Rising Sun Lodge, and Hiram Lodge-were all Chartered by Grand African Lodge, long before the establishment of the National Compact. These 4 Lodges established the United Grand Lodge for the State of New York:



"On March of 1848, Boyer Lodge #1 along with Celestial #2, Rising Sun #3 and Hiram #4 came together and organized under the name United Grand Lodge F. and A.M., of the State of New York..."[2]


There is no record that the United Grand Lodge of New York ever came under the National Compact. There is no record of the reception of a charter from the National Compact for United Grand Lodge of New York. Despite the so-called "expulsion" of New York by the National Grand Lodge in 1849, there is no evidence that the National Grand Lodge ever gave a charter to the Grand Lodge in New York. I  address that issue of the PHO-National Compact attempting to claim that New York was a part of the Compact in 1848 in another article:


"Mr. Belcher, in his first question, attempts to place the United Grand Lodge of New York as part of the National Compact. The New York Grand Lodge claims that they have never been subordinate to the National Grand Lodge at any time in its history. According to Blue-Lite Research Group founder and Grand Historian of the MWPHGL of NY, RW Ezekiel M. Bey:

"In 1848, a majority of the members of Boyer Lodge repudiated the signatures of its three representatives (Alexander Elston, William C. Clark and Lewis Hayden) to the proposal that was made at the meeting in 1847. On March of 1848, Boyer Lodge #1 along with Celestial #2, Rising Sun #3, and Hiram #4 came together and organized under the name United Grand Lodge, F. and A. M. of the State of New York."

According to Articles 5 and 7 of the Articles of Union, resolved by the Convention of 1847, State Grand Lodges were to send in, to the National Grand Lodge, annual returns and the National Grand Lodge was to issue charters to all State Grand Lodges THAT WOULD APPLY to them for one.

My challenge to Mr. Belcher would be to produce an annual return to the National Grand Lodge from the United Grand Lodge of New York, and to provide an application to the National Grand Lodge petitioning a warrant for the United Grand Lodge of New York. This is a valid challenge, because the signers to the Convention Articles of 1847 were members of a LODGE, they were not a Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge did not form until 1848, which means their formation, if they were indeed a Compact Grand Lodge should have been sanctioned by warrant from the National Grand Lodge in 1848, for the Articles had been signed in 1847. And, if New York in 1848 was a Compact Grand Lodge, where is the annual returns they made to the National Grand Lodge. Woodlin's account must be taken with a grain of salt; although New York was added to a Grand Lodge listing in the Proceedings of the National Grand Lodge that Woodlin published in National Masonic Union [6], we find no names from the New York Grand Lodge as delegates to the Meeting in New York, June 24th-25th, 1848. Without this documentation, the only source would be Woodlin's work, and there is ample proof to show that National Masonic Union has many errors, and even a revised letter attributed to Prince Hall. Let's get to the first question:

If the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge expelled the United Grand Lodge of New York 4 days before it scheduled to have a special meeting, and the New York acknowledged the actions of the National Grand Lodge in its report, can it be concluded that the United Grand Lodge was a member of the National Grand Lodge and the committee’s report a ploy to distance themselves?

The error here is that Mr. Belcher attempts to affirm that the United Grand Lodge of New York was a Compact Grand Lodge because they "acknowledged the actions of the National Grand Lodge in its report." I want to place the paragraph of the Committee report that Belcher uses to claim that New York was a member of the Compact:

"They did, however, in the plentitude of their power, on the 26th day of June, A. L. 5849, (a day we shall ever hold sacred to their memory) attempted to expel the "United Grand Lodge of the State of New York"..."


This is no way indicates that New York was a member of the National Compact. With the absence of annual returns, the application for a Compact Warrant, the existence of a Compact charter for New York and this statement in the very same report:

"WE DID NOT DEEM IT WISE, OR PRUDENT, TO HAVE IT APPEAR THAT THE UNION HAD BEEN EFFECTED, ALTHOUGH WE WERE NOT PREPARED FOR THE FINAL CONSUMMATION...WE HELD THE MATTER AT ABEYANCE UNTIL THE CONGREGATED WISDOM OF THE BRETHREN IN A CALMER MOMENT..."

The word here, as R. W. Ezekiel M. Bey states in, The Hour Glass, is ABEYANCE, which means:

"A Temporary state of disuse or suspension."

The report states that they considered the coming into the National Compact, but held the matter SUSPENDED, until the next time they congregated, which subsequently cause a division in their Grand Lodge in 1849. This gave birth to the Union Grand Lodge (Compact). The United Grand Lodge was at odds as to join or not join. The United Grand Lodge chose to remain independent, and "[f]our of the Lodges of the newly formed United Grand Lodge of New York, and parts of two other lodges of the United Grand Lodge, formed the core of the Union Grand Lodge."

So, the conclusion that United Grand Lodge of New York was subordinate to the National Grand Lodge falters for the lack of evidence. As far as the Committee report being a ploy to distance themselves from the National Grand Lodge is based on the initial faulty premise that they were a subordinate. You can be no more distant than NOT A PART."[3]


The First Colored Grand Lodge of Maryland did not form under the National Compact either. According to documentation, that will not be refuted by the Pro-Compact writers, the Lodges that formed the First Colored Grand Lodge of Maryland, were chartered by the First Independent African Grand Lodge of North America (Pennsylvania). All of the Lodges were chartered by this Grand Body before the formation of the National Grand Lodge. There is no documentation that the Independent Grand Lodge of Maryland ever became party to the National Compact. According to the MW Prince Hall GL of Maryland's website:

The First African Independent Grand Lodge of North America No. 1 of the State of Pennsylvania, whose own authority came directly from Prince Hall, warranted the first lodge of black Masons constituted in the state of Maryland on February 2, 1825. This lodge was styled as African Friendship Lodge of Baltimore No. 6. Thereafter the same authority warranted Saint James Lodge and Enterprise Lodge. In 1845, again with the able assistance of Pennsylvania, these three (3) subordinate lodges formed the First Colored Grand Lodge, A.F.&A.M. of the state of Maryland, with Rev. James A. Handy as Grand Master.

In 1847, following the establishment of the National Grand Lodge, another grand lodge was organized in Maryland pursuant to its authority and styled as Union Grand Lodge. [4]


The debate that will be engaged is whether the First Colored Grand Lodge of Maryland was formed in 1845 or 1848. It does not matter what side of the debate you will choose to take, one thing is for certain, that Grand Lodge never took a National Compact warrant, and was never part of the National Compact.


So, we have found error in the the proposition that ALL Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges must trace their history through the National Compact.

ERROR #2


The writer continues his provision of misconception:

What is the Article 7 “Myth”???
The “Myth” is a rhetorical strategy to align Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges that were established by the MW National Grand Lodge with “lofty” modern United Grand Lodge of England standards that state Grand Lodges must be established by three independent Lodges. PHA scholars cite that these Grand Lodges were “allowed”, by the National Grand Lodge Constitution, to form Grand Lodges independent of the National Grand Lodge  then those Grand Lodges applied for a National Grand Lodge Warrant later. They cite the Article of Union of the Grand Lodges that were at the meeting which established the National Grand Lodge. It reads as follows:
“Art. 7. The National Grand Lodge shall grant warrants to all State Grand Lodges applying, if worthy which said Lodge shall be constituted agreeably to ancient rules and regulations.” [1]
The PHA scholars must paint the above as part of the National Grand Lodge Constitution. Those supportive of the “Article 7 Myth” must use this myth to also paint the fantasy portrait that PHA Grand Lodges were “sovereign” Grand Lodges before being NGL subordinates. This gives the illusion that when those Grand Lodges left the National Grand Lodge in the early to mid 1870s, they were simply “re-claiming” their sovereignty when they were never established as such.

The writer is writing from the position that the modern version of the National Compact is the same as the National Grand Lodge of 1847, and so THEY are the root of African American Freemasonry. This position creates flaws in his theories and therefore produces a faulty premise upon which the post is built.

Firstly, The National Grand Lodge of 1847 is not the root of African American Freemasonry, African Lodge #459 is. Secondly, there were Grand Lodges in existence before the formation of the National Compact, which means it did not charter all the Grand Lodges in our lineage. Last, but not least, the PHO-National Compact is not the same as the National Grand Lodge of 1847 (please refer to my article, More Belcherism)

After 1878, many of the Compact Grand Lodge merged or were absorbed by Independent Grand Lodges in their respective states. By 1880, there was only a faction attempting to continue the National Grand Lodge. By 1881, we find the National Grand Master, George W. Levere in the merger of the Compact Grand Lodge of Tennessee and the Independent Grand Lodge of the same. There were no Triennials, just a fractured body of groups operating in a couple States. The National Compact had lost all of its original Grand Lodges that formed it, and was a dysfunctional organization using both desperate and illegal methods to continue.

So, the writer is wrong to assume that his propaganda holds any truth. All Grand Lodges under the National Grand Lodge were started without aid of the National Grand Lodge, and they petitioned the National Grand Lodge to enter the Compact.


ERROR #3



They cite the Article of Union of the Grand Lodges that were at the meeting which established the National Grand Lodge. It reads as follows:
“Art. 7. The National Grand Lodge shall grant warrants to all State Grand Lodges applying, if worthy which said Lodge shall be constituted agreeably to ancient rules and regulations.” [1]


The PHA scholars must paint the above as part of the National Grand Lodge Constitution. 


The above article comes from the Article of Union that were formed at the Convention of 1847, this we agree. The question now has to be answered by the writer is:
WHAT WERE THESE ARTICLES OF UNION GOVERNING, if not the National Grand Lodge?
The Articles of Union served as the Constitution of the National Grand Lodge. The writer states:
The PHA scholars must paint the above as part of the National Grand Lodge Constitution.

And then adds more exposure of his deliberate propaganda:

Constitution?? What Constitution???

Allow me to actually post the first page of the 1856 National Grand Lodge Proceedings:

The above is pages 6-7 of the 1856 Proceedings of the National Grand Lodge Triennial. What you read on page 7 is CONSTITUTION OF THE NATIONAL GRAND LODGE, adopted in the city of Boston, dated June 24, 1847.


The writer asked, "WHAT CONSTITUTION??"


Well, now he has an answer to his question. And, allow me to present Article VII of this very Constitution, that he denies existed:


I added the upper portion of the page to show that it is a continuation from page 7, which began the CONSTITUTION of the National Grand Lodge adopted 1847; please read Article VII of this Constitution:

“Art. 7. The National Grand Lodge shall grant warrants to all State Grand Lodges applying, if worthy which said Lodge shall be constituted agreeably to ancient rules and regulations.”


I actually reprinted Mr. Belcher's version of Article VII, so that you can see that they are the same. So, Article VII is part of the National Grand Lodge Constitution of 1847. 


So, we find the Mr. Belcher again, presenting error and propaganda for facts, but when placed in the light of the documentation, it just doesn't stand up.
Mr. Belcher states:

According to the printing of the Declaration of Sentiments of the National Grand Lodge in the Proceedings of 1856, the Constitution of the NGL was the Ahiman Rezon [2]



And he provides the following as documentation to support his claim:






What Mr. Belcher failed to put together was that if there was a CONSTITUTION for the National Grand Lodge in 1847, which we can stand on from their own documentation, then the above statement must have been forwarded as a UNIFORMED CONSTITUTION for the SEVERAL GRAND LODGES.



The Ahiman's Rezon was not for the government of the National Grand Lodge, but for the Grand Lodges under the National Grand Lodge. The Committee was presenting a recommendation to make the government of the Grand Lodges UNIFORMED. Wasn't this a primary reason for the formation of the National Compact?


At least this what their primary source of information stated, Joshua Woodlin, in his pamphlet, Masonic National Union. The Ahiman's Rezon was for the uniformed government of the Craft, not the National Grand Lodge. The National Grand Lodge formed a constitution to govern itself, and it provided the Ahiman's Rezon as a Constitution for the Grand Lodges under it. There is NOTHING in the Ahiman's Rezon that would apply to the National Grand Lodge and its structure and relationship to the Grand Lodges in the Compact. It was a Constitution for a GRAND LODGE not a NATIONAL GRAND LODGE. 

ERROR #4


Could the Original Three Grand Lodges of the National Grand Lodge “re-claim” Sovereignty???

NO! Absolutely not!!! The three Grand Lodges which formed the National Grand Lodge were re-organized and the original Grand Lodges ceased to exist after the establishment of the National Grand Lodge. After John T. Hilton was elected the first National Grand Master and the Grand Lodges which were part of the Convention were designated to be restructured by National Grand Master Hilton. The African Grand Lodge was restructured and renamed the Right Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts by virtue of warrant from the National Grand Lodge.[3] The First Independent African Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania merged and formed the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. [4]

Grand Lodges, by virtue of their very existence, are sovereign and independent. Pro-Compact writers believe that once Grand Lodges received a warrant from the National Grand Lodge, that there is no reclamation of sovereignty if that Grand Lodge decided to leave the Compact. We have already shown that Grand Lodges were formed then petitioned the National Grand Lodge for admission into the Compact. It was a part of their Constitution, despite the propaganda of Mr. Belcher.

This means that Grand Lodges were created independent of the National Grand Lodge, and were not considered a part of the National Compact until a petition for a Compact warrant was received. This has been the case in 95% of the Grand Lodge formations prior to 1879. This is undeniable.

If a Grand Lodge did not petition the National Grand Lodge, then they were just not party to the National Compact, but it had no bearing on their status as a Grand Lodge. If they were formed by Convention and Constitution in the acceptable usage and custom, they were sovereign Grand Lodges. 


When Grand Lodges chose to become part of the Compact, ONLY THEN would they have given up that Sovereignty.  The point I would like to clarify as well is the falsity of "reorganization". There was no reorganization of the Grand Lodge in 1847, and neither was their in the reception of a Compact Warrant.

None of the Grand Lodges reorganized, because no major changes were made to their structure of leadership, they just accepted the National Grand Lodge as the superior body, that is all. I would challenge any pro-Compact writer to justify their "reorganization" theory by showing what major changes did any of the first Grand Lodges went through.

Both Grand Lodges in Pennsylvania remained two separate Grand Lodges with the Grand Line in tact at the formation of the National Grand Lodge. There were no changes but the fact that they countenance the National Grand Body as a governing body. No changes were made in the Grand Masters or officers or structure. It wasn't until a year later that the two Grand Lodges in Pennsylvania decided to merge, that changes were made and the "reorganization" can be justified.

All Grand Lodges that were formed elected their officers and adopted their constitution, and then petitioned the National Grand Lodge, who made no changes in what they had established, they just issued a warrant to the Grand Lodge. So Mr. Belcher's attempt to use Pennsylvania fails. I will challenge him to show me what major "reorganization" that took place for any Grand Lodge at the reception of a National Compact warrant.





Here we have Lewis Hayden, who was a delegate to the Boston Convention of 1847 explaining how a State Grand Lodge would become part of the National Grand Lodge. An important portion of the letter stated:

"Again, it was conceived by the members of that convention that such an organization could be masonically formed, preserving ALL the RIGHTS and PREROGATIVES NATURALLY BELONGING TO THE STATE GRAND LODGES"



I want to point out the phrase, "Naturally Belonging".



Naturally belonging alludes to what is inherent in that entity. One of the INHERENT RIGHTS and PREROGATIVES NATURALLY BELONGING to a Grand Lodge is its sovereignty.

All Masonic writers of all times agree that a Grand Lodge is INHERENTLY SOVEREIGN. They don't need permission to be sovereign, they are so by the virtue of their formation and constitution. I challenge Mr. Belcher to produce any documentation of 1847-1880 (outside of the irregular NGL) that will declare that no Grand Lodge is inherently sovereign.

As we can see that the alleged Article 7 "myth" has been established as documented fact and the only myths that have been exposed are the ones proposed in the article of Mr. Belcher.

Sources:
1. Christopher Belcher, Article 7: The Prince Hall Myth, PHO-National Compact Blog
http://www.princehallorigin.com/article-7-the-prince-hall-myth/

2. MWPHGL of New York website: http://princehallny.org/aboutus.html

3. Bro. John L. Hairston, The Quill and the Sword, More Belcherism article:
http://quillandsword357.blogspot.com/2015/07/more-belcherismthe-clock-tolls-for.html

4. MWPHGL of Maryland website: http://www.mwphglmd.com/Grand-Lodge-History.html

*All other documents sources are listed on the document entries in the article.