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Tue, 09.20.1735

George Middleton, Patriot born

George Middleton House,
(Pickney Street, Boston, MA.)

*On this date, we celebrate the birth of George Middleton c1735.  He was a Black patriot, Freemason, and colonial rights activist.  

Very little is known of his childhood and family. He was an early member of the African Lodge, later known as the Prince Hall Masons, and he was the third Grand Master of that group. Middleton married Elsey Marsh on March 11, 1781, at Trinity Church.  He was one of 5,000 African Americans to serve in the military on the Patriot side of the Revolutionary War, although scant evidence survives about his military service. Colonel Middleton served as commander of the Bucks of America, a Boston-based unit of the Massachusetts militia. Few details have survived about the Bucks, one of only two all-black Patriot units in the war.

After the war, Governor John Hancock honored Colonel Middleton and his company by presenting him with a flag to commemorate their service. The flag still exists and is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society. After the American Revolution, Africans began forming their own small community in the North Slope of Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts; Middleton is one of the first. Middleton bought land on Pinckney Street and, with a friend, built a home.  He was a violinist, a horse breaker, and a coachman. He gained considerable recognition for his accomplishments and was a constant fighter for the rights of Africans.  

He organized the African Benevolent Society in 1796, providing financial relief and job placement for members, primarily widows and orphans. In 1808 he published an anti-slavery statement along with his Masonic brother Prince Hall stating, "Freedom is desirable; if not, would men sacrifice their time, their property, and finally their lives in the pursuit of this?"  With this powerful statement, parallels between the American Revolution and the desires of blacks grew.  Middleton was recognized for wanting to improve racial things and was appointed Grand Master of the African Masonic Lodge in 1809.  Though married, he apparently left no children when he died on April 6, 1815.  Middleton's former home at 5 Pinckney Street is in Boston, MA. Black Heritage Trail.  

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