March 22, 2020
Primus straightened the room as the general fell into a deep sleep. Earlier, as a meeting between the general and Primus' employer, Colonel Pickering, showed signs of going late into the evening, the general inquired if there was extra straw and blankets for him to use for the night. Primus quickly responded affirmatively.
Worn out from the late-night meeting, Primus was happy to give up his bed of straw and blanket for the exhausted general. After helping the two men prepare their beds in the little tent, Primus finished his chores as they fell asleep. Finding a box, he settled himself into a sitting position, resting his head on his hands in hopes of finding a little rest.
During the early hours of the morning, the general awoke to see his host in the awkward sleeping position. He quickly realized Primus had given up his bed for him.
"Primus," the general called, "Primus!"
Waking from his shallow sleep, Primus responded, "Yes, general?"
"Why did you say there was enough straw and blankets?” the general inquired. He continued, questioning Primus' assurance of supplies only to surrender his own bedding. Primus objected to the general's calls to join him, but finally relented knowing he would not win this battle. As the general moved over to make room on the straw bed, the young, black steward laid down next to the Commander of the Continental Army, General George Washington, sharing a bed and a blanket for the remainder of the night.
Born February 29, 1756, in Boston, Massachusetts, Primus Hall witnessed the rise of the Revolution. (see , , , and ) His father, staunch abolitionist and Revolutionary War veteran, Prince Hall, was originally owned by William Hall. After receiving his freedom, he founded the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, while he tirelessly worked to bring about freedom for all as well as spread the Gospel. (see and )
Primus' mother was a slave named Deliah. While just a month old, Primus was "bound out," or indentured, as an apprentice to shoemaker Ezra Trask in Essex County and assumed the name Primus Trask. As part of the contract, Primus would receive his freedom at age 21. However, health issues surfaced as Primus worked with the shoes, prompting Trask to grant him his freedom around 1770 at age 15. Primus moved to Salem, where he worked several jobs until the American Revolution began. (see )
Prince Hall encouraged all blacks, free and enslaved, to join the fight, with many believing Prince did himself as five Prince Halls are found on muster rolls. Many black leaders at the time believed their efforts would strengthen their calls for their freedom, which it did in Northern states. Following his father's lead, nineteen-year-old Primus enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment. (see )
Primus' introduction to the war was during the Siege of Boston in March of 1776. (see ) Stationed at several locations, he found himself at the Battery in New York later that summer. (see ) From there, he participated in multiple campaigns of the war, including major ones such as the Battles of Harlem Heights, White Plains, and Trenton, where Primus chased down and captured two fleeing Hessian soldiers single-handedly. As with many soldiers, Primus' enlistment was up after the Battle of Trenton. Yet "at the earnest request of General Washington," Primus signed up for six more weeks and accompanied the commander to Princeton days later to defeat the British and send them further North for the winter. (see ) Shortly after, Washington signed Primus' honorable discharge, as he did with many patriots, in Morristown, New Jersey. (see )
According to Primus' Pension Application, he enlisted again in late 1777 under Captain Samuel Flint for a three month period. The Militia Company marched to Saratoga where they engaged in battle. During the fight, Primus recalled, "standing near his Captain when he received his mortal wound, and caught him in his arms to prevent his falling, but on observing that [he] bled profusely set him down against a tree where he expired immediately." The Patriot's victory at Saratoga ended with General Burgoyne's surrender, which Primus witnessed. (see )
Primus eventually volunteered for another three month enlistment under Captain Woodbury. In Rhode Island at the time the French Fleet and Army landed on July 11, 1780, Primus and another black soldier were detached from their unit so they could perform military duties for the French Corps under Count Rochambeau. (see )
After three enlistments lasting over nineteen months total, Primus offered his services as a steward to Colonel Timothy Pickering. A close friend and confidant of General Washington, the two military leaders were know to have long, in-depth conversations about strategy and actions. It was during this twenty-two month position that Primus came to know Washington very well as a leader, a man, and a friend.
Part of the Quartermaster Department, Pickering joined the Continental Army at Yorktown where he and Primus witnessed the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis. (see ) Following the Revolution, Pickering served as Postmaster General and Secretary of War during President Washington's administration. Primus married his first wife, Phoebe Robson, on May 2, 1786, at Christ Church in Boston, now known as the Old North Church. (See ) He married two more times after the deaths of his first two wives and had a total of seven children, which he supported as a soap boiler.
Primus followed his father's abolitionist footsteps, as well as the viewpoints of William Lloyd Garrison, by establishing a school for African-American children in 1798 while he tried to persuade Boston officials to set up a public school. (see , , and ) After ten years of red tape and rejection, Primus moved the school to the African Meeting House as he continued to support and promote education for black students.
When his country called again in 1812, Primus answered by aiding in building fortifications for Castle Island in Boston Harbor. Petitioning for a veteran's pension in the 1830's, Primus' application was denied. Filing a suit, he completed more paperwork detailing his service during his three enlistments as well as his time with Pickering. Having had his wallet stolen decades earlier, which included his discharge papers as well as his emancipation document from Trask, whom Primus claimed "always repelled that appellation,” or title, of slavery and "never was literally considered a slave,” he had no proof of his freedom or service. Further examination and investigation produced multiple affidavits from soldiers who knew and served with Primus, vouching for his military record and proclaiming his outstanding service during the American Revolution.
One fellow soldier stated, "Primus was discharged at the same time with myself...and [he] was much esteemed by the Officers & men, as a brave & faithful Soldier in the service of his Country."
As a result of such testimonies, the pension commission’s denial was overruled and Primus was granted a $60 annual pension from the United States. A property owner in Boston, Primus was a notable and respected member of the community throughout his life. Upon his death on March 22, 1842, the Boston Transcript printed the 86-year-old's obituary as follows:
"Mr. Hall was well known, particularly to the younger portion of our citizens, to whom he was in the habit of recounting scenes of the revolutionary war, especially the capture of General Burgoyne, and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, at both of which he was present. He was attached to the Quartermaster General's Department, and for about two years was in the military family of General Washington, of whom he spoke with that fervor of attachment which was common to all who were personally acquainted with that great man. He was departed full of years, to meet, we trust, thus reward of a good and faithful servant."
Liberty, political correctness of today wants us only to see history as black and white when the reality is our past is full of color. By continuing to insist that our Founding Fathers were all racist, they are trying to justify and bring about the complete collapse of the American system and eventually the . Stories such as Primus’ are not allowed be told as they prove that not only were some black men free, they were respected men in their community and contributed greatly to the American Dream. (see , , , and ) Furthermore, men like Washington and Thomas Jefferson were not the avid racists the left wants us to believe they were and they actually did support abolition. (see and ) They wanted a “United” America, not the divided one most school children are taught about.
Unfortunately, that same destructive divisiveness is purposely being thrust into our current discourse of today. While our country, as well as the world, fights to get a handle on the COVID-19, or Corona Virus, political pundits, leftist politicians, and the news media are doing everything they can to keep people from working together. For months newscasters reported the virus originated in Wuhan, China, referring to it as the China, or Chinese, Virus, but in the past week have excoriated President Donald Trump, calling him as racist for using the very same terminology. No matter what Trump does, the left portrays him as racist, waiting too long, not taking responsibility, and just simply being wrong even though many experts and national leaders are praising his efforts. They accuse him of being marginalizing while simultaneously being overtly divisive themselves.
People like Washington, Pickering, Primus, and countless others, worked together to establish freedom and liberty for all. Hand in hand, they built a nation where everyone has an opportunity regardless of race, creed, or color. This desire and right for independence, endowed by our Creator, is in our blood and it is what will get us through our current crisis. (see ) While Trump encourages the nation by reminding us of our strength as Americans, those that claim to embody tolerance display nothing but bigotry and partisanship in every action they make.
History will prove those demanding tolerance and equal outcome for all seek nothing more than to permanently separate us into groups where we are treated according to our classifications. Instead of celebrating our individuality, they brand us with isolating scarlet letters, just as the British did. None of this is part of the American tradition or American exceptionalism. Patriots like Primus saw Americans as red, white, and blue, not black and white. Because of it, America became the greatest nation in the world, able to lend a helping hand to all other countries. Bowing our heads on bended knee, returning our faith to God over government, and rejecting this progressive shove into socialism is the prescription to defeat COVID-19 and for becoming great once more.
That’s my 2 cents.
THE COLOR OF PATRIOTISM