African American History: Prince Hall

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Prince Hall was an African American, and considered one of the most prominent citizens of Boston, during the revolutionary period. He is also known as the father of Black Masonry. He is noted to be the founder and master of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and accepted Masons of Boston, which is the world’s first black Masonic lodge. Today this lodge is called African Lodge Number 459. African Lodge Number 459 is the foundation, or cornerstone, for the organization which still exist today.

Arguably, Prince Hall was born around or about the year 1735. Little is known of his birth place, birth date, and parentage. “One widely circulated rumor states that "Prince Hall was free born in British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englishman and his mother a free colored woman of French extraction.” (Who is Prince Hall, http://www.mindspring.com/~johnsonx/whoisph.htm, Ret. 20NOV2009 )Early records indicate that in the 1740’s, Prince Hall was a slave for a Boston leather-dresser named William Hall. As a result to in the nature of his slavery, Prince Hall learned leather crafting as a trade. Prince Hall was an educated and religious man. “During his servitude, he joined the Congregational Church, School Street, Boston, in 1762 and married fellow slave Sarah Richie on November 2, 1763. The marriage ended with her death on an unrecorded date.” (Prince Hall, Biography Resource Center, http://www.africawithin.com/bios/prince_hall.htm, ret. 20Nov2009) On April 9, 1770, Prince Hall earned his recorded freedom, however always considering himself as a free man, after serving 21 years of unfaltering service. Prince Hall married another woman a few years later by the name of Flora Gibbs and fathered two sons. He then opened The Golden Fleece, a successful leather goods shop of his own and doubled as a caterer. It is believed that Prince Hall was former military as well. “It is believed that he was one of the six black men of...
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