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
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
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
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.
The tradition started by Bro. Prince Hall over 200 years ago is still carried on today.