No. 21605 Prince Hall Grand Lodge, 30 Washington Street, Grove Hall
Prince Hall Masons
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRINCE HALL FREEMASONRY IN MASSACHUSETTS
On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 men of color were made masons in Lodge #441 of the Irish Registry attached to the 38th British Foot Infantry at Castle William Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. It marked the first time that Black men were made masons in America.
About a year later, since the conflict between England and America had commenced, the British Foot Infantry left Boston, along with its lodge, leaving Prince Hall and his associates without a lodge. Before the lodge left, Worshipful Master Batt, gave them a “permit” to meet as a lodge and bury their dead in manner and form. This permit, however, did not allow them to do any “masonic work” or to take in any new members.
Under it, African Lodge was organized on July 3, 1776, with Prince Hall as the worshipful master. It wasn’t long before this lodge received an additional “permit” from Provincial Grand Master John Rowe to walk in procession on St. John’s Day.
On March 2, 1784, African Lodge #1 petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, the Premier or Mother Grand Lodge of the world, for a warrant (or charter), to organize a regular masonic lodge, with all the rights and privileges thereunto prescribed.
The Grand Lodge of England issued a charter on September 29, 1784 to African Lodge #459, the first lodge of Blacks in America.
African Lodge #459 grew and prospered to such a degree that Worshipful Master Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master, in 1791, and out of this grew the first Black Provincial Grand Lodge.
In 1797 he organized a lodge in Philadelphia and one in Rhode Island. These lodges were designated to work under the charter of African Lodge #459.
In December 1808, one year after the death of Prince Hall, African Lodge #459 (Boston), African Lodge #459 (Philadelphia) and Hiram Lodge #3 (Providence) met in a general assembly of the craft and organized African Grand Lodge (sometime referred to as African Grand Lodge #1).
In 1847, out of respect for their founding father and first Grand Master, Prince Hall, they changed their name to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the name it carries today. In 1848 Union Lodge #2, Rising Sons of St. John #3 and Celestial Lodge #4 became the first lodges organized under the name Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
From these beginnings, there now are some 5,000 lodges and 47 grand lodges who trace their lineage to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts.
April 29, 2006
PRINCE HALL MASONS TO HOST INTERNATIONAL
GATHERING FOR FOUNDING RE-ENACTMENT
The Oldest black Fraternal Organization in North America, African Lodge #459 of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, will reenact its 1784 founding, on Saturday, April 29, 2006 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Hundreds of Prince Hall Masons from across the United States, Europe and the Caribbean will converge on the City of Boston to meet at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 24 Washington Street, in Boston’s Grove Hall section. They will be joined by Grand Masters from 20 of the 47 Grand Lodges in America and the Head of Concordant bodies representing more than 80,000 Prince Hall masons.
The reenactment ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. are open to all Prince Hall masons that are members of African Lodge #459. Visits to Copp’s Hill burial ground in Boston’s historic North End, Arlington Cemetery are at 2:00 p.m. and the evening’s social event at 9:00 p.m. is open to the public. Of interest will be the display and discussion of the first Masonic Grand Lodge ?Charter? in North America, granted in England 1784.
African Lodge #459 was the inspiration for many social and political movements for freedom and equality for people of color in the late 17th and early 18th century. Prince Hall, the first Grand Master, worked tirelessly to stir-up and inspire the Colonies to judge a man by the quality of his character, not his color.
In 1775, Prince Hall petitioned the Legislature of Massachusetts for better treatment of Africans. He also petitioned General George Washington to allow freed men of African decent to continue service as solders in the Continental army. He advocated for and helped found the first public school in the United States for Africans. Hall was an essential part of the underground railroad of the 1700?s that assisted slaves escaping the bondage of slavery.
The efforts of African Lodge #459 and it grand master Prince Hall have been the inspiration for social movements and change throughout America for more than 200 years. After his death African Lodge #459 was named Prince Hall Grand Lodge in his honor.