July 3, 2008
It was a significant event in Freemasonry on March 6, 1775, when Prince Hall and fourteen other men were initiated into Freemasonry through Warrant No. 459, which is still in our possession. John Batt, who was of the 38th Foot Regiment of the British Army, having enlisted in 1759 and learning of the American cause, re-enlisted in its army. The enlistees were Prince Hall, Cyrus Johnston, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Horward, and Richard Titley. The writer has this record. A permit was issued for these freemasons to meet as African Lodge No. 1, and they became the first Black freemasons in the United States. Prince Hall enlisted and served as a soldier in the 2nd and 6th Regiments of Massachusetts. In this connection, George W. Williams, historian, wrote in 1884, "that he saw hard service we know by the record of the two regiments he served in, always distinguished for steadiness and valor. Prince Hall was not only a good soldier, he was a statesman."