6. George Middleton House

Street or Other Address: 5-7 Pinckney

Nearest Corner: Pinckney and Joy Streets

Digital & Degree Coordinates: 42.358883,-71.065367; N42 21.533 W71 03.922

View George Middleton House. Between 1800 and 1900, most of the African Americans who lived in the city lived in the West End, between Pinckney and Cambridge Streets, and between Joy and Charles Streets, a neighborhood now called the North Slope of Beacon Hill. Another small community grew up across the Charles River in Cambridge. The all-free black community in Boston was concerned with finding decent housing, establishing independent supportive institutions, educating their children, and ending slavery in the rest of the nation. All of these concerns were played out in this Beacon Hill neighborhood.”

Built in 1797, this is the oldest extant home built by African Americans on Beacon Hill. Its original owners were George Middleton (1735-1815), a liveryman, and Louis Glapion, a  hairdresser. Both Middleton and Glapion were members of the African Lodge of Masons founded by Prince Hall.

George Middleton was a veteran of the American Revolution. Honorifically called "colonel," Middleton supposedly led the all-black company, the "Bucks of America." John Hancock, in front of his house on Beacon Street, was documented by William C. Nell as having presented the company with a painted silk flag bearing the initials JGWH, a pine tree, a deer, and a scroll bearing the name of the company.

Just a few blocks away on Irving Street was the home of Charles Sumner (January 6, 1811 – March 11, 1874)  a powerful orator, leader of  antislavery forces in Massachusetts and in the Congress.. In 1856, a South Carolina Congressman nearly killed Sumner on the Senate floor two days after Sumner delivered an intensely anti-slavery speech called "The Crime against Kansas". In the speech, Sumner had characterized the attacker's uncle, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, as a pimp for slavery. After three years of medical treatment, Sumner returned to the Senate as the war began. He became a leader of the Radical Republicans who sought to destroy slavery and radically transform the South.