Prince Hall


Prince Hall was an African American noted as an abolitionist for his leadership in the free black community in Boston and as the founder of Prince Hall Masonry. He lobbied for education rights for black children and was active in the black to Africa movement.

Prince Hall tried to gain New England's enslaved and free blacks a place in Freemasonry, education and the military, which were some of the most crucial spheres in his time. Prince Hall formed the African Grand Lodge of North America. Prince Hall was unanimously elected its Grand Master and served until his death in 1807.

Steve Gladstoe, aouthor of Freedom Trail Boston states that Prince Hall known if his role in creating Black Freemasonry, champoining equal education rights, and fighting slavery-"was one of the most influation free black leaders in the late 1700's."

There is confusion about his year of birth, parents, and marriages-at least partly due to the multiple number of "Prince Halls" during this lifetime.

Prince Hall was a man of God who joined the Congregational Church in 1762 at age 27. He served in the revolutionary war. He encouraged enslaved and freed blacks to serve the American colonial military. He believed that if blacks were involved in the founding of the new nation, it would aid in the attainment of freedom fo all balcks. Prince Hall proposed that the Massachusetts Committe of Safety allow blacks to join the military. He and fellow supporters petition compared Britain's colonial rule with the enslavement of blacks. Their proposal was declined.

England issued a proclamation that guaranteed freedom to blacks who enlisted in the British army. Once the British Army filled its ranks with black troops, the Continental Army reversed its decision and allowed blacks into the military. It is believed, but not certain, that Prince Hall was one of the six "Prince Halls" from Massachusetss to serve during the war.

Having served during the Revolutionary War, many African Americans epected, but did not receive, racial equlaity when the war ended. With the intention of inproving the lives of fellow Americans, Prince Hall collaborated with others to propose legislation for equal rights. He also hosted community events, such many of the original members of the African Masonic Lodge had served during the Revolutionary War.

Prince Hall was interested in the Masonic fraternity because Freemasonry was founded upon ideals of liverty, equality and peace. Prior to the American Revolutionary War, Prince Hall and fourteen other men petitioned for admittance to the white Boston St. John's Lodge. They were turned down. Having been rejected by colonial Freemansory, Prince Hall and 15 others sought and were initiated into Masonry by members of Lodge #441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland on March 6, 1775. The Lodge was attached to the Brittish forces stationed in Boston. Prince Hall and other freedmen founded African Lodge #1 and he was named Grand Master.

The black MAsons had limited power; they could meet as a lodge, take part in the Masonic procession on St. John's Day, and bury their dead with Masonic rites but could not confer Masonic degrees or perfome any other essential functions of a fully operating Lodge. Unable to create a charter, they applied to the Grand Lodge of England. The grand master of the Mother Grand Lodge of England, H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland issued a charter for the African Lodge No. 1 later renamed African Lodge No. 459 September 29, 1784. The Lodge's was the country's first African Masonic Lodge. Due to the African Lodge's popularity and Prince Hall's leadership, the Grand Lodge of England made Hall a Provincial Grand Master on January 27, 1791. His responsibilities included reporting on the condition of lodges in the Boston area. Six years later, on March 22, 1797 Prince Hall organized a lodge in Philadelphia, called African Lodge #459, under Prince Hall's Charter. They later received their own charter. On June 25, 1797 he organized African Lodge (later know as Hiram Lodge #3) at Providence, Rhode Island.
Author and historian James Sidbury said

"Prince Hall and those who joined him to found Boston's African Masonic Lodge built a fundamentally
new "African" movement on a preexisting institutional fundation. Within that movement they asserted
emotional, mythical and genealogical links to the continent of Africa and its peoples."

After the death of Prince Hall, on December 4, 1807, the brethren organized the African Grand Lodge on June 24, 1808, including the Philadelphia, Providence and Boston Lodges. African Grand Lodge decleared its independence from the United Grand Lodge of England and all other lodges in 1827. In 1847 they renamed to Prince Hall Grand Lodge in honor of their fore bearer.
Prince Hall was considered the "Father of African Freemasonry." Prince Hall said of civic actiities:

My brethren, let us pay all due respect to all who God had put in places of honor over us: do justly
and be faithful to them that hire you, and treat them with the respect they
may deserve; but worship no man. Worship God, this much is your duty as christians and as masons.