Compiled By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. June 6, 2022: The founder of the first black freemasonry in the U.S. was an immigrant from Barbados.
Prince Hall was born in Barbados around 1735 before moving to the U.S. where he became an abolitionist and leader in the free black community in Boston. He founded Prince Hall Freemasonry and lobbied for education rights for African American children. He was also active in the back-to-Africa movement.
Hall tried to gain a place for New York’s enslaved and free blacks in Freemasonry, education, and the military, which were some of the most crucial spheres of society in his time. Hall is considered the founder of “Black Freemasonry” in the United States, known today as Prince Hall Freemasonry. In 1775 Prince Hall and fourteen free black men became Masons by being initiated as members of Army Lodge No. 441 of the 38th regiment of the British Army. When the British left Boston in 1776, Hall and his Masons formed African Lodge No. 1. African Lodge No. 1 gained full charter status in 1788. Prince Hall Cemetery is believed to be the last African American Masonic cemetery in the US.
Steve Gladstone, author of Freedom Trail Boston, states that Prince Hall “was one of the most influential free black leaders in the late 1700s”.
Prince Hall died in 1807 and is buried in Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston along with other notable Bostonians from the colonial era.
A tribute monument was erected in Copp’s Hill on June 24, 1835, in his name next to his grave marker. The inscription reads: “Here lies ye body of Prince Hall, first Grand Master of the colored Grand Lodge in Mass. Died Dec. 7, 1807.”