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(FRATERNAL.) Masonic certificate signed by the important abolitionist Lewis Hayden, a fugitive from slavery. Document Signed by 5 parties including Hayden. One page, 9 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches, plus integral blank, with original sealed ribbon inserted through both leaves; folds, foxing and minor wear. Boston, 16 July 1851
Lewis Hayden (1811-1889) escaped from Kentucky via the Underground Railroad. In Boston, he became a prominent abolitionist and lecturer while also running a successful clothing store. He signed this certificate as an officer of the Celestial Masonic Lodge #4, testifying that "Brother John Parkis, a master mason . . . is a worthy brother and recommend him to favourable consideration of the Masonic Fraternity of Ancient York Masons." Not many Hayden autographs are known to exist, but this is a very close match for his signature on an 1852 Boston antislavery petition held by the Boston City Archives. The certificate is also signed by Henry Harris and Jeremiah Harvey. Henry G. Garner, the secretary, apparently wrote out the bulk of the certificate in addition to signing it; he later died of a disease contracted while serving in the Civil War. The recipient, John Parkis (1814-1854), was a brother-in-law of the great David Ruggles and had recently returned from California; he signed in the left margin, with a note explaining that he had moved to New London, CT.
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