Toronto Society for Masonic Research

Upton: Malone, Robertson, and Herrington

The Prince Hall Recognition policy of the leaders of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario was expressed starkly and harshly, when E.T. Malone was the only Grand Master outside of the U.S. to be sharply critical of the Grand Lodge of Washington's nearly unanimous adoption of the Upton Report on 1898-06-15.

This is how the official history book of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario  tells it:

"Early in 1899 the Masonic world was startled by the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington in recognizing another Grand Lodge of coloured men in the same state.  Opposition to such recognition arose, of course, not from the fact that it was a body of coloured men, but because the creation of a second Grand Lodge in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington, constituted a most flagrant case of invasion of territory." -- "A History of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario 1855-1955", by Herrington and Foley, 1955 380p" p.188.

This account is inaccurate or misleading in every particular:

1. The GLWA did not recognize another GL anywhere.

2. They recognized no GL nor lodge in the same state - none even existed.

3. The Opposition was at least in part, explicitly stated as race and colour-based.

4. There was no "creation of a second GL in the jurisdiction of the GL of WA" at the time.

5. The territory that was supposedly invaded was that of the GLFL, since one of the two petitioners (Rideout) was initiated in a PH Lodge in Florida.

6. The jurisdiction of the GLFL was limited, by its Act of Incorporation:  "Consisting of Masons exclusively of the white race."   It never had any jurisdiction over Black Masons!

The Grand Lodge in Ontario first published Herrington's above account in 1930. (p.254 of that edition).  Herrington had apparently merely echoed the sentiments of the GM and the CCFC in the 1899 Proceedings as if fact.  Had the GM (E.T. Malone) and the CCFC (Henry Robertson) actually read the Upton Report, and were they misrepresenting its contents to their GL, out of ignorance, or from better knowledge?  Herrington, as a historian, with 30 years to make certain of his facts before publication, could certainly not plead ignorance.  Herrington's account was republished in the 1955 update of the "History".

Neither Herrington, nor subsequent historians have (yet) commented on the factual misrepresentations in these accounts.  As a consequence, subsequent readers have accepted these incorrect accounts from their trusted leaders, as if accurate.

In the 100 years that followed, 1,000,000 Regular Black Masons were never recognized.  The GLCPO leaders have not yet applied the constitutional rules about recognition, in the case of Black Prince Hall Masons!

Some answers can be found through the link at the bottom of this page.

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The GLWA adopted the Upton Report on 1898-06-15 with near unanimity.


RESOLVED. That, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, Masonry is universal: and, without doubt, neither race nor color are among the tests proper to be applied to determine the fitness of a candidate for the degrees of Masonry.

RESOLVED. That in view of recognized laws of the Masonic Institution, and of facts of history apparently well authenticated and worthy of full credence, this Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to deny or question the right of its constituent Lodges, or of the members thereof, to recognize as brother Masons, negroes who have been initiated in Lodges which can trace their origin to Prince Hall Lodge, No. 459, organized under the warrant of our R.W. Brother Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, Acting Grand Master, under the authority of H.R.H. Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, etc., Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of F. & A. Masons in England, bearing date September 29, A.L. 5784, or to our R.W. Brother Prince Hall, Master of said Lodge; and, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, for the purpose of tracing such origin, the African Grand Lodge, Boston, organized in 1808 - subsequently known as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the first African Grand Lodge of North America in and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, organized in 1815, and the Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania may justly be regarded as legitimate Masonic Grand Lodges.

RESOLVED. That while this Grand Lodge recognizes no difference between brethren based on race or color, yet it is not unmindful of the fact that the white and colored races in the United States have in many ways shown a preference to remain, in purely social matters, separate and apart. In view of this inclination of the two races - Masonry being pre-eminently a social Institution, - this Grand Lodge deems it to the best interest of Masonry to declare that if regular Masons of African descent desire to establish, within the State of Washington, Lodges confined wholly or chiefly to brethren of their race, and shall establish such Lodges strictly in accordance with the Landmarks of Masonry, and in accordance with Masonic Law as heretofore interpreted by Masonic tribunals of their own race, and if such Lodges shall in due time see fit in like manner to erect a Grand Lodge for the better administration of their affairs, this Grand Lodge, having more regard for the good of Masonry than for any mere technicality, will not regard the establishment of such Lodges or Grand Lodge as an invasion of its jurisdiction, but as evincing a disposition to conform to its own ideas as to the best interests of the Craft under peculiar circumstances; and will ever extend to our colored brethren its sincere sympathy in every effort to promote the welfare of the Craft or inculcate the pure principles of our Art.

RESOLVED. That the Grand Secretary be instructed to acknowledge receipt of the communication from Gideon S. Bailey and Con A. Rideout, and forward to them a copy of the printed Proceedings of this annual communication of the Grand Lodge, as a response to said communication.

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Here is another Canadian perspective:

The Colour Bar in Freemasonry

In a report made by a committee of eminent brethren, the whole question of Prince Hall Masonry was gone into at length. and four resolutions were proposed, the last one being merely the forwarding of it to the petitioners.  The first laid down the principle that Freemasonry was universal, and race and colour were no tests of fitness for admission of candidates.   The second, that Prince Hall Masonry was legitimate. The third, that, as Freemasonry is a social institution, probably it would be better if citizens of African descent confined themselves to lodges made up of brethren of their race.

Many of the Grand Lodges in the United States, and particularly those of the South, were mortally offended by the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington, and broke off relations with it at once.  Other Grand Lodges simply deplored its action.  After a period of wordy warfare, the offending resolutions were modified by the Grand Lodge of Washington, and the old relations established sooner or later.

In 1899 the Grand Master of British Columbia referred to this controversy in guarded terms, but was sympathetic to the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington, and again in 1900 the Grand Master took much the same stand.  The last part of his reference to the matter probably accurately sums up the feeling of the British Columbia Freemasons generally.  He said:

"The question is one which interests us in British Columbia in theory rather than in practice, but I cannot help feeling that the 'color line' has so far warped the better judgement of the members of the fraternity in some of the Grand jurisdictions of the neighbouring republic as to make them unable, under any circumstances or conditions, to view any man of African descent as a 'Brother'."

Anyone interested in the question of Negro Freemasonry will find a tremendous amount of information on all sides of the question in the Review of Foreign Correspondence, in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, from 1899 to 1901.  The Grand Lodge of British Columbia has never recognized Prince Hall masonry.

-- History of Grand Lodge of British Columbia, 1871-1970, 1971 p.191

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1862 GLCPO Proceedings 

7th annual Communication, St. Catherines, Wed. July 9th, 1862


Colored Masons

  Difficulties having arisen within this district during the past

year, in regard to the admission or rejection of colored persons,

claiming entrance to the Lodges.  I respectfully submit the

question to the consideration of Grand Lodge, as one entitled to

and worthy of authorative decision.  I cannot think that the color

of the man, can in any degree impair the claims and privileges of

the Mason, and yet it is essential that the Law by which the

admission of visiting brethren is restricted to those hailing from

Lodges duly recognized, should be carefully adhered to, exceptional

cases of injustice may nevertheless occur, and thus it would seem

that the general question should be enquired into, with a view to

a settlement by the Grand Lodge of any doubts now existing in

relation to it.

William G. Storm,  D.D.G.M., Toronto District

[The Proceedings make no mention of  the question being brought before Grand Lodge.]

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"As early as 1862, the attention of GL had been called to the position of coloured persons claiming admission to lodges in Toronto.  This was embodied in the report of the DDGM of the Toronto District, presented that year.  The question arose again in a much more aggravated form at the AC in 1871.  A letter had been received from the Secretary of a lodge at Chatham and also a petition from others belonging to a lodge at Toronto, both said to be holding warrants from the GL of the State of NY (coloured) desiring to surrender their warrants and affiliate with the GL of Canada.  The BGP, to shom the letter and petition had been referred, reported that the GS be instructed to state in reply, that the GLC could recognize only one GL in the State of NY, and that any application for admission must be made personally by each candidate in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.  The report was adopted in the belief that the question would end there." -- Herrington1955 p.118-119

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GLCPO Proceedings 1899

Grand Master's Address p.49

"the Grand Lodge of Washington in recognizing the establishment of another GL (composed of colored men) within the borders of that State, thereby dealing a blow to the established doctrine of exclusive GL jurisdiction.  This action, if approved by other GLs, would give a standing to men made in lodges which have been considered clandestine."

... [letter to Upton follows, in which he refers to 1871 requests from Cooper and Moore] ...

p.51 "I am convinced that you have not fully appreciated the motives of those who have opposed you in this matter"

[there was no such recognition, nor such establishment; the clandestiny seems to be a consequence of skin colour.  what is the supposed problem: clandestiny, jurisdiction, or race?  Nb: "if approved by other GLs"]

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Appendix to Proceedings of 1900

Report on Correspondence

Henry Robertson, Chairman

"... Negro ... Negro ... Negroes ... Negro ... Negro ...

The subject of Negro Masonry has been brought to the attention of a number of Grand Lodges with the invariable result that it was condemned as clandestine and irregular.

The question of color does not enter into the discussion at all, it being universally admitted that neither race nor color will debar an applicant from initiation into the mysteries of the Craft.

There are many regular Negro Masons, made in regular lodges; and the status of these is not in question; but it is the far larger number, tracing their origin to African Lodge, sometimes called "Prince Hall" Lodge, that the GL of WA proposes to recognize. ... all agree that these Negro Lodges are irregular and clandestine. ..." p.i-ii

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Appendix to Proceedings of 1900

Report on Correspondence

Henry Robertson, Chairman

"The repeal of the obnoxious "Negro" resolutions by the

Grand Lodge of Washington has been accepted by some

of the United States jurisdictions as sufficient to enable

them to resume fraternal intercourse with the Grand

Lodge, but there are others to whom it is not satisfac-

tory on account of the rider attached to the repeal in-

sisting on the right of the lodges in Washington to de-

termine for themselves the status of all who may ap-

ply for admission, irrespective of the action of other


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Upton (1898): Report only (10 pages)

Upton (1899): Light on a Dark Subject (140 pages)

"But some lies have been so brazenly asserted and so persistently reiterated; some false doctrines so insidiously suggested and craftily defended, that no other course seemed possible. ... I believe time and Masonic scholarship will vindicate my candor, and my accuracy in all essential particulars. ... I have not the least doubt that the principal conclusions arrived at are THE TRUTH, or that such will be the verdict of Posterity."

TSMR: Prince Hall Freemasonry Recognition (in Canada, in Context)

(work in progress) PHR 2008-07-31