(1819 – 1907)


“He helped form the South Carolina Union League and was instrumental in the organization of the Republican Party in South Carolina, serving as president of the party’s state convention in 1867 and as a state executive committeeman in 1874.” – South Carolina Encyclopedia

Richard Howell Gleaves was a prominent attorney, entrepreneur, and holder of several elected offices during the Reconstruction Era. He served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and the National Grand Master of the Prince Hall National Grand Lodge of North America, a fraternal order which served as a vital organization for black male professionals and intellectuals.

Gleaves was born on July 4, 1819, in Philadelphia to a Haitian father and an English mother. After an early career as a trader along the Mississippi River, he moved to Beaufort, South Carolina in 1866, where he practiced law. From 1870 to 1872, Gleaves served as a trial justice, probate judge, and commissioner of elections in Beaufort County. He also went into business as a merchant with business partner Robert Smalls, the Civil War naval hero who famously commandeered three ships in the Confederate Navy.

Gleaves was a prominent Prince Hall Freemason who eventually constructed a black fraternal hall in Beaufort that is now called the Sons of Beaufort Lodge. He also established the first Prince Hall Lodge in Ohio in 1848.