Today in Masonic History Prince Hall Passes Away in 1807.
Prince Hall was an American abolitionist and founder of Prince Hall Freemasonry.
There is unclear information about Hall’s early life. Some accounts have Hall being born in Cuba, although this is not confirmed. Even the date of his birth is in questions, it is unclear if it is in 1735 or 1738, the proceedings of the 1906 Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts session goes with the 1738 date. Traditionally his birthday is celebrated on September 14th. There is also a question of his status in his youth, whether free man or slave. At least one historian theorizes at the age of 11 he was a slave, although later documentation indicates Hall was a free man all of his life. Other than learning the tanner trade from William Hall of Boston, Prince Hall was either a slave or servant of William Hall, it is unclear where the rest of Prince Hall’s education came from. Some claim he is self-taught, although it was common at the time for slaves and free blacks in Massachusetts to get help for their education.
By 1770, Hall is listed as a free, literate man. He was a homeowner, voted and paid taxes while working as a peddler and leather worker.
During the Revolutionary War, Hall encouraged enslaved and free blacks to serve in the Continental Army. Hall was one of the first to propose to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, the forerunner of the Massachusetts legislature, to allow blacks to join the army. When the Massachusetts Committee of Safety refused, many blacks in America joined the British Army who had promised freedom for all who served. This caused a quick change of course for the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. It is believed this Prince Hall is one of the 6 Prince Halls who served in the American Revolution.
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