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Prince Hall was an abolitionist, civic leader, caterer, leather-dresser, and the founder of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. He is thought to have been born in Barbados, B. W. I. on September 12, 1748, although no record of this has ever been found. He arrived in Boston, MA in 1765 and sold as a slave to William Hall, who freed him in 1770. There is a Certificate of Manumission in the Boston Athenaeum Library, dated 9 April I770 for Prince Hall. However, because there were a number of Prince Halls in Boston during this time, the certificate cannot be positively identified as referring to him.

     In 1787, as a property owner and registered voter, Prince Hall campaigned for the establishment of schools for Negro children in Boston and opened a school in his own home. He successfully petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to protect free Negroes from kidnapping and from being sold into slavery. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the Continental Army and is believed to have fought at Bunker Hill. In his last published speech, he denounced mob violence against blacks and urged conciliation between the races.

     Prince Hall was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  A deposition, which is recorded in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Register of Deeds, made by Prince Hall in August 1807 states that he was a leather-dresser by trade, that he was 'about seventy', and that in November 1762 he had been received into the full communion of the Congregational Church. 

     Initiated into Lodge No 441 with fourteen others, Prince Hall and his brethren were granted the authority to meet as African Lodge No. 1 (Under Dispensation). Hall petitioned the Premier Grand Lodge of England for a warrant which was granted on September 20, 1784 and delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787. African Lodge No. 459 was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.  Out of this lodge, the African Grand Lodge of North America was formed on June 24, 1791 in Boston. The year following Prince Hall’s death, as a memorial to him, and by an act of the General Assembly of the Craft, the name was changed to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The original Charter No. 459 has long since been made secure between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank.

     His obituary in the Boston Gazette for Monday, 7 December 1807 notes his age as 72 which would infer a birth date of about the year 1735. His gravestone mistakenly notes the date of the published notice rather than his actual death the previous Friday. 

Who is Prince Hall

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