The Surprising Revolutionary War Roots of The Prince Hall Masons

August 6, 2019

The Prince Hall Masons are the oldest and largest group of Black Masons in the world, with 40 Lodges of Prince Hall Masonry throughout the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, and Liberia.

Through the decades, the Prince Hall Freemasons went through virulent racism from white Freemasons who denounced them. To this day, white Grand Lodges in most of the Southern states still won’t recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodge members as legitimate Masons.

But their roots are deep in the Revolutionary War era. Their namesake, Prince Hall, was born free in 1748 in Bridgetown, Barbados. He became a Freemason in Boston in 1775 and founded the first black Masonic lodge in the United States after the war. 

This Masonic lodge became official in 1787 - the African Masonic Lodge No. 459. Prince Hall called upon his peers to practice “love and benevolence to all the whole family of mankind.”

Members later renamed the lodge African Lodge No. 1, developing the tradition of "Prince Hall Freemasonry" in which they had their own jurisdictions of mainly Black members.

The Prince Hall Masons and similar organizations show our history of resilience and exemplify how Black folks, when given the opportunity, can act independently of white leadership and control.

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