Obama criticizes opponents' Iraq votes
"One of their most famous members, and also a 32nd degree Prince Hall Mason, became a US presidential candidate for 2008. His name is Barack Hussein Obama."
December 28, 2007
Holly McQueen/The Register
Written by Dzenan Causevic
Prince Hall is a first black masonic lodge in the US, named by its founder and master who was the most famous black individual in the Boston area during the American Revolution and through the turn of the nineteenth century.
Prince Hall was the slave of a Boston leather-dresser named William Hall in the late 1740s, who earned his freedom on April 9, 1770, as reward for 21 years of steadfast service. Prince Hall and 14 other free black men, in and around Boston area, approached a British army lodge of Freemasons attached to the 38th Foot Regiment, stationed near Boston. Hall and the others were initiated into the lodge on March 6, 1775. The regiment withdrew from the area a short time later, and Sergeant John Batt, who had been in charge of the initiation, issued a limited permit on March 17 allowing the group certain Masonic privileges as well as permission to meet as a lodge.
On July 3, 1775, the group formed African Lodge No. 1, the first lodge of black Free and Accepted Masons in the world, and Hall was made master. Provincial Grand Master of North America John Rowe granted the lodge a second limited permit to continue their activities.
However, black masonry remained separate from white masonry in the United States, because white masons did not freely accept their black counterparts, despite their claims to fraternity. Hall spread his organization to other cities, but since he was confined to the black population, those newly emerged lodges were called black lodges.
On June 24, 1797, a second black lodge was chartered in Providence, Rhode Island. A year later, a third one was started in Philadelphia, with Absalom Jones as worshipful master. Prince Hall died in Boston on December 4, 1807. Funeral rites, in accord with masonic rites, were performed at his home in Lendell's Lane one week later. He was buried in the 59th Street Mathews Cemetery, Boston, in late March, 1808. Within a year of his death, Hall's followers renamed their order for their former leader.
This highly secretive society continued to grow in the United States, but remained separate from white masonry until the present days.
Today, Prince Hall is a masonic fraternal order whose buildings are clearly marked, members readily identify themselves with rings, bumper stickers, and lapel pins. One of their most famous members, and also a 32nd degree Prince Hall Mason, became a US presidential candidate for 2008. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.
Foner, Philip S., ed. The Voice of Black America. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.
Kaplan, Sidney. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution 1770--1800. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1973.
Logan, Rayford W., and Michael R. Winston, eds. Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: Norton, 1982.
Salzman, Jack, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA/Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1996.