In 1822, the pioneers of what was to become, twenty-five years thereafter, a free, sovereign and independent state on the west Coast of Africa, to be known as, the republic of Liberia, landed on these shores. In this group were a few who were craftsmen, hailing from colored Lodges in the United States of America, working under the Prince Hall grand Lodge Constitution of Boston, Massachusetts, and U.S.A
The Dispensation under which Prince Hall established the first Negro Masonic Lodge in the United States, on the 3rd of July, 1785, was issued to him, together with Boston Smith, Thomas Sanderson and several other Negro brethren then residing in Boston, New England, by the command and under the authority of His Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, duke of Cumberland, etc., etc., Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honorable society of Free and accepted Masons in England, dated the 28th September, A.L. 5784.
From the pamphlet issued by authority of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M., of Illinois, U.S.A., the following is quoted as to who was Prince Hall:
“Prince Hall, a mason and a preacher in the 18th century. We behold him preaching to crowded audiences composed for the most part or slaves and their owners. He was born September 12, 1728, at Bridgetown, Barbados, British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englishman, his mother a free woman of French decent. In February, 1765, he worked his way on a vessel bound for America, and arrived in Boston in March 1765. When he stepped on the shores of New England, he was 17 years old. At the age twenty-five he had saved a smell sum from his earnings which he invested in real estate. He was widely known as a genuine Christian and a faithful friend. In 1775, in the quarters of General Gage on Capps Hill, he was brought to Masonic light in a travelling British Lodge, No. 58, A.F. & A.M. of the Grand Lodge of England.”
“On the 3rd day of July 1785, Prince Hall dedicated to God and to the memory of the Holy Saints John the First, Lodge of colored Masons in North America. He entered the Revolutionary Army in February, 1776, joined Captain Benjamin Billi9ngham’s Company. After the war he married Miss Phoebe Baker. On the morning of December 7, 1907, after an illness of four weeks, Prince Hall died surrounded by his brother and friends.”
Thus were Prince Hall and fourteen other freed colored citizens of Boston initiated on March 6, 1775.
The Pioneer fathers being engrossed with the grave and serious problems confronting them attending their permanent settlement and establishment here, the few Masons among them deferred any formal setting up of Craft Masonry as such among their co-settlers.
After the lapse of a period extending over forty years, during which time all their energies had been solely directed towards expanding their settlement to a colony and form a colony to a commonwealth, and from a commonwealth to a Free, sovereign and independent state. The surviving Masons felt that the time had arrived for the formal organization of Craft Masonry in Liberia whereby the golden tenets and principles of our noble order could be more effectively promulgated and practiced by Liberians.
In the early part of the year 1867, thereafter Thomas Amos, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, Beverly P. Yates, Charles B. Dunbar, Sr., F. Johns, John N. Lewis, John H. Chivers, James C. Minor, John Seys, James M. Priest, Samuel C. Glassgow, William S. Anderson and Gabriel Moore, now of blessed memory, having the interest of the craft at heart assembled in solemn Convention, in the city of Monrovia, and after interchanging views for quite two weeks, decided to and did delegate all Masonic power in this jurisdiction to the Rev. Brother Thomas Amos, as Deputy Grand Master of Master of Masons for the purpose of establishing a Grand Lodge. This object having been met, the convention was closed.
The necessary Dispensation, based on a petition was issued by the newly elected Deputy Grand Master, Thomas Amos, to Bros. Ashbury F. Johns. W.M. James C. Minor, S. W. John H. Chivers, J. W., and other Masons, empowering them to open or set up Oriental Lodge No. 1, in the city of Monrovia, and “to Enter, Pass and Raise Free-masons according to the ancient customs and usages of the Craft.”
Similar Dispensations were also granted by Deputy Grand Master Amos fro the erection of two other Lodges now known as Saint Paul Lodge No. 2, and Saint John’s Lodge No. 3, located in the settlement of Clay-Ashland and in the city of Monrovia, respectively.
There being now the constitutional nucleus for the formation of a Grand Lodge, the three dispensator Lodges assembled in a Convention in the City of Monrovia, drew up a constitution with certain by-laws, elected and installed their Roster of officers, as follows: Thomas H. Amos, as Grand Master
Ashbury F. Johns, as Deputy grand Master
Beverly P. Yates, as Senior Grand Warder
H. W. Johnson, as Junior Grand Warden
Gabriel Moore, as Grand Treasurer
John N. Lewis, as Grand Secretary
And the other appointed Grand Officers; and announced in a public manner its declaration to the Masonic World in the following words:
“We be masons, true and loyal, having the interest and prosperity of the Fraternity at heart; and being desirous of diffusing its genuine principles broadcast, have constituted and set up a Grand Lodge of Free and accepted Masons in and for Republic of Liberia and ask the sympathy and recognition of the Craft throughout the Globe.”
This appeal met the hearty response of most of the Masonic Grand Bodies of the World, namely:
Names of Grand Bodies THAT RECOGNIZED THE LIBERIAN GRAND LODGE
Grand Lodge of England
Grand Lodge of Scotland
Grand Lodge of Australia
Grand Lodge of New Zealand
Grand Lodge of Belgium
Grand Lodge of Chile
Grand Lodge of Haiti
Grand Lodge of Germany
Grand Lodge of Hamburg
Grand Lodge of Hungary
Grand Lodge of Spain
The Grand Orient of France
Grand Lodge of Berlin, 3 Globes
Grand Lodge of Victoria
Grand Lodge of Italy
And Grand Bodies in the United States of America with whom we are in relation.
Representatives from our Grand East with Representatives from the Grand East of foreign jurisdictions were and have been exchanged.