Correspondence between Our Founder and the self inducted “United Order of Oddfellows” Pottsville,Pa in a vain attempt to legitimize them…
The following is a copy of the first letter sent :
New York, Aug. 1, 1847.
Sir: —Having been appointed by the Committee of Management of the G. U. O., Leeds, England, as their agent to confer with the Deputies from the U. 0. of Odd Fellows in Pottsville, Pa, and now being in New York, in obedience with their instructions I have the pleasure to informyou that I am now ready to meet the Deputies from Pottsville, in this city, as soon as it will be convenient to them. The Commitee of Management promised to inform you of my appointment, which I presume they have done.
In regard to your application, the Committee of Management laid it before the Annual Meeting in May last, and it was then decided that the whole matter should be left in the hands of the Committee of Management, and as I am their agent for America, they have turned over the whole business into my hands, and as we have already twenty-two Lodges in the United States? I trust we shall be able to effect a union which will be beneficial to all parties concerned.
The G. U. O. of O. F. is becoming very extensive; we number upwards of 60,000 members in England, Scotland and Wales, we have also Lodges in New South Wales, with a Sub-Committee of Management; we have also lately sent Dispensations and Power to form a Sub-Committee of Management to the city of Madras, in the East Indies. You will perceive by this that we are extending very rapidly, and if we can effect a union between your Lodges and the Lodges which are already formed in this country, which are doing exceedingly well, I think the Order will progress very rapidly, and no doubt, will in a few years rival the I. O. of O. F. in this country. You will please drop me a note, .and let me know about the time the Deputies will be ready, and I will make the necessary arrangements, and inform you of the time and place of meeting. Yours with great respect,
Of Victoria Lodge, No. 448, Liverpool.
The following is a response from the self induced lodges in Pottsville….
Office of the Grand Secretary. Port Carbon, Schuylkill Co., Pa., Aug. 9, 1847. Peter Oguex; P. G. M.
Sir: —Your communication announcing your arrival in New York, and your readiness to confer with the Deputies on the subject of the proposed union between the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows of Great Britain and the United Order of the United States, has been duly received by the undersigned, to whom was referred the whole matter by the R. W. Grand Dodge of the United States, America. And having been informed that you are a colored man, in reply we regret to say that ; Owing to the prejudice which unfortunately exists in the minds of the people of this country, we have to decline meeting you; for we are fully confident that was the undersigned willing to cast aside their own prejudices and consent to meet you on grounds of perfect equality, all that they might say and do would eventually be frustrated by the Order at large in this country. We had thought that the brethren in Great Britain were fully sensible of this fact, and that they certainly would spare it hose feelings which we fear the circumstances will give rise to. And that they would not for a moment harbor the thought of our condescending to a negotiation, which in the very outset would nail down the coffin lid upon the skeleton of our Order; for the prejudices of the people of the United States are such, that were we to effect a union with your self, in two years from the date thereof, our Order among the white community would have faded from existence. Of this fact, you sir, can not be ignorant; and you will, therefore, we trust, receive this communication fully appreciating our own disappointment, and feeling the same regret at the error, or, perhaps, want of perspicuity on the part of the brethren in Great Britain on matters of this character in America, Besides, when we consider the position of our formidable rival, the I. 0. 0. F., which we believe to be no less formidable in Great Britain, we are more fully admonished of the impropriety of meeting again, and of the dangerous results of such a meeting to the best interests of our own Order. But it is unnecessary for us to enlarge on this matter, as we feel satisfied that you are as well acquainted with the prejudices of our people as we ourselves. We do not. however, wish negotiations to close with this communication for we believe our Order should be one and universal throughout the habitable globe, and we may address another communication to the A. M. C. on the subject, hoping that a Deputy may be sent with whom there will be no difficulty on the grounds of color; for we believe a union can be affected that will prove beneficial and satisfactory to all concerned.
If the A. M. C. or Committee of Management may have forwarded any communications by you to the Grand Lodge, you will please for ward them to either of the undersigned. Should our information rela tive to yourself be erroneous, you will please inform us.
Sincerely hoping that the present difficulty may speedily be re moved, we are, with respect, etc., signed:
ROBERT M. PALMER, P. R. W. G. Sire, GEORGE HEATON, P. R. W. G. Sire, MORRIS H. GORHAM, R. W. G. Secretary. To Peter Ogden, P. G. M.
Ship “Patrick Henry.”
The following is a copy of the second letter sent:
New York, Aug. 12, 1847. Sir: —Thinking it quite time that I should have an answer from you. yesterday morning I wrote a letter to see whether you had received mine. On the way to the post-office I stopped at our office, and found what purported to be an answer to my letter to you, and must say was much surprised at its contents, and should not have condescended to an swer it were it not for the purpose of correcting an error which you and your colleagues seem to have fallen into, in regard to the knowledge which the people of Great Britain and the Committee of Management have concerning the state of parties in America, etc. . .
In regard to your first objection, you say you have heard I was a colored man. That is true, and I am not ashamed to own it, and the whole Order is acquainted with the fact, as well as the Committee of Management at Leeds. Those who do not know it personally, know it by the magazines which are published by our Order, also by my ad dresses, several of which have been published in England and America. In regard to the second point in your communication, I would not meet you on any other ground than perfect equality in every sense of thei word, and the instructions from the A. M. C. of our Order in May last to the Committee of Management was that nothing should be done that would interfere with the lodges already established here. With regard to the effects which an union might have upon what you justly term the skeleton of your Order, I think the course you are pursuing will very soon nail dawn the coffin lid, and consign it to oblivion, and the world will be ledto view it among the things that once were, but is now “no more forever.” And you will recollect that the United Order of 1830 is not the re-organized and enrolled Grand United Order of 1847; and we number now upwards of nine hundred lodges.
We are more extended than the I. O.O.F.of America, as we have lodges in New South Wales, with a Sub-Committee of Management; and lately sent dispensations and a grant to form a Sub-Committee of Management to the city of Madras, in the East Indies. You will bear in mind that they are not white people, and in the district of Liverpool where they have a perfect knowledge of the prejudices in America, there are a great number of colored Americans, who have joined both the Grand United Order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and they are much sought after by both Orders; and in several of our lodges in America are members who have drawn their cards from the lodges, write now very flattering accounts, and I feel confident that in a very brief space of time some of the Northern and Eastern towns will come in. notwithstanding the bug bear prejudice which seems to frighten your colleagues so much.
To speak the truth, it does appear to me that your members’ ideas are rather antiquated, and have not kept pace with the age. I am once more strengthened in this belief from the fact of your having started some fifteen or sixteen years ago with a comparatively clear field before you, the United Order, and during the whole of that time you have not been able to finish paying for your dispensations, and your Order has dwindled to a skeleton, and from appearances is about making its last gasp. I find you have yet to learn one fact concerning our Order, which is that
“No pent-up nation, country, or complexion, confines our powers, But the whole unbounded universe is ours.”
As a contrast to your Order’s proceedings, I take pleasure in being able to inform you that since I opened the first Lodge on the first of March, 1843, we have granted twenty-one dispensations for Subordinate Lodges, and I have opened two Grand Master’s Chapters, all of which are doing exceedingly well; and if some of your members should happen to be in Philadelphia on the fifth of October next, they will see the G. M.’s Chapter turnout and I feel confident they will not disgrace themselves or the Order. I shall not see them myself, as I shall then be in Liverpool. I mention these things to show that our Order is not a skeleton, but is sound both in mind and limb. In regard to communications from the Committee of Management. I have none for your colleagues or self, the whole business having been left in my hands with unlimited powers. I have your communication directed to P. G. M. Taylor, which I will hold until further orders from the Committee of Management. With best respects,
PETER OGDEN, P. G. M.,
Of Victoria Lodge, So. 448, Liverpool.