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Lyman Hall (April 12, 1724 – October 19, 1790), physician, clergyman, and statesman, was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Georgia. Hall County is named for him.

Lyman Hall

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Signer of the Declaration of Independence

 

LYMAN HALL was born on April 12, 1724 in Wallingford, Connecticut. It was not in the state of his birth, however, that Hall would gain fame as a colonial congressman, but further south, in Georgia.

Hall studied for the ministry at Yale where he graduated in 1747 at the age of twenty-three. Soon after, he married Abigail Burr and subsequently decided he would rather heal unhealthy bodies than tainted souls. So he studied long and hard and by 1754 he was ready to practice medicine.


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First he opened an office in South Carolina, then he and his family settled in Sunbury on the Georgia coast. As a dedicated doctor, Hall's practice expanded and prospered – so much so that he was financially able to acquire a vast and successful rice plantation in Burke County, Georgia.

While the Georgia legislature was at first reluctant to send a representative to the Second Continental congress in 1775, Lyman Hall was determined to change this posture. He called a citizen's meeting that was filled with patriots who outwardly supported his loud cry for total independence. Thus, he was elected as a delegate to congress. He had no authority to vote, however, until the following year when his appointment was confirmed by the Georgia legislature.

In 1776, two other representatives for Georgia joined Hall at the Old State House in Philadelphia. He was the oldest of these signers and the one who spoke out most forcefully for freedom and a breakaway from the rule of England.

During the Revolutionary War, while Hall was still serving in Congress, the British destroyed his beautiful plantation. Hall's family, however, managed to escape to the north, later joining him in Philadelphia.

In 1782, LymanHall retuned to Georgia, where he was elected to the office of governor. He served just one year before returning in 1784 to a new plantation.

Hall died on October 19, 1790 in Burke County, Georgia, at the age of sixty-six.


 

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This gentleman was a native citizen of Connecticut, born and educated, both classically and professionally in that colony. He was born about the year 1731. After completing his classical and medical education, which was effected while comparatively quite young, he married a lady of Connecticut, and emigrated to South Carolina, in the year 1752, to pursue the business of his profession. At first he settled in Dorchester; but removed into Georgia within the first year after his arrival in South Carolina. In Georgia he established himself in the district of Medway. About forty families, originally from New England, accompanied him into that province. He settled himself in Sunbury, where, by his gentlemanly address, and amiable disposition, he obtained the confidence of the inhabitants, among whom he successfully pursued the practice of medicine until the commencement of the American revolution. His skill as a physician, strength, ened and confirmed the favorable impressions which had been made on their feelings by his kindness and affability.

Doctor Hall possessed a good measure of those rational] feelings, which are strikingly characteristic of the inhabitants of New England. These he cherished when in a southern cli- mate; and the fact that he was associated with a considerable number of kindred spirits, had no tendency to diminish one of the strongest traits in the human character. Possibly it may have been owing, in a good measure, to the relative situation and character of the inhabitants, among whom he resided, that the people of St. John's Parish were so much earlier determined to make a common cause in opposing British encroachments on the rights, and liberty of the colonies, than the citizens of Georgia generally. But be this as it may, such was the fact, that while the people of Georgia in general, were indecisive, temporizing, and backward, the citizens of the parish of St. John set them an example of decision, magnanimity, and patriotism ; which, though slowly, and at a considerable distance in their rear, they eventually followed, and which then presented the whole thirteen provinces, untimely arrayed in a determined resistance of British domination.

By the course which those patriotic citizens adopted, and steadily pursued, they subjected themselves to much inconvenience. Their lives and property were not less exposed to an invading enemy, than those of the inhabitants of Georgia were generally. They also submitted, to a great extent, to break off all commercial communication with them. It is true that the whole colony was much exposed. It had an open frontier of about two hundred miles; and the settled portion which was covered with a sparse population, extended at the utmost not more than forty miles in width, in any part. But those citizens who were descended from New England parentage, had learned that the place of their father's dwellings had been attacked with hostile violence, and was menaced with other more severe inflictions, and their fraternal and patriotic spirits were roused to unite with their eastern and northern brethren, in resisting and repelling from the American shores their hostile invaders.

A general meeting of what was then denominated, the re- publican party, was convened at Savannah, in July, 1774; which Doctor Hall attended. This was subsequent to various parochial and provincial meetings, which had proved vexatious and abortive.

The measures adopted by that general meeting, were far from proving satisfactory to him, or his constituents. A weekend meeting of the same body took place after a lapse of about six months; but that also closed without doing any thing more than petitioning the British parliament to redress their grievances, and to be relieved from other measures of the parent government. This had been done once and again, by the other colonies, and as often rejected. In this instance it met with a similar reception. That the people were not excited to a more determined resistance, after all the exam- pies that had been set before them, during the six months since their meeting in July of the preceding year, must probably he ascribed to the smallness of their numbers, and to their peculiarly exposed condition. But still, it seems difficult to persuade ourselves that they could really expect that their application would be received, and treated with more favor and regard than those of the other colonies. It cannot then be thought strange, that the result of that meeting, when reported by Doctor Hall to his constituents, instead of satisfaction, excited disgust. They deemed it temporizing and pusillanimous ;, and too tame for men who were determined to live or die as became freemen. The parishioners of St. John's Parish had caught the spirit that had been already kindled in Boston, and had spread throughout New England, and they resolved to adopt and pursue a course more in accordance with their own feelings, and corresponding with those of their brethren in New England. Hence they ad. dressed themselves to the committee of correspondence in the city of Charleston, South Carolina^ requesting permission to become allied with them, and conduct their commercial business in conformity to the non-importation agreement, to which agreement they had already acceded. They were not successful in this application, however, owing to different views taken by the association in South Carolina, of the terms of that association, from those of the patriotic applicants of St. John's Parish, in Georgia. These, though frustrated in this attempt, were not disheartened. They resolved to become established on an equal ground with those colonies which had confederated not to import any goods from Great Britain, although they were few in number; and in an isolated condition, as respected their political feelings and sentiments. They, by themselves, came into an agreement not to purchase slaves imported into Savannah, nor to trade with that city, nor among the non-conforming inhabitants of the colony, except under the supervision of a committee; and only for real necessaries, even under those restrictions. After having proceeded thus far, (while their fellow citizens, still cherishing their irresolution, looked on, uninfluenced by their example, and remained apparently undetermined how to act,) they proceeded to elect their delegate to the next general congress, not as a delegate of the province of Georgia, but of the parish of St. John; and on the 21st of March, 1775, they chose Lyman Hall, by an unanimous vote.

A scene was soon to be exhibited before the general congress, of a novel character ; and as interesting as it was new. A handful of citizens, actuated by feelings, and entertaining sentiments of patriotism, such as influenced the American people generally, situated in the southern extremity of the settlements, had elected and sent forward to congress their delegate, with his credentials. On the thirteenth of May, Mr. Hall presented himself to that assembly, and exhibited his credentials as a delegate from the parish of St. John, in the colony of Georgia. Congress, in this unprecedented case, unanimously resolved to admit him to take his seat, in the character with which he appeared, subject to such regulations as they should adopt relative to his voting. The question they had to decide, was not free from embarrassing considerations. Occasionally, votes were taken in that assembly by colonies. It was very desirable that all of them, should be fully represented as colonies. Georgia vacillated, but it was hoped, if not clearly expected, that she would yet unite with the others, and it would be unwise to take any step that might tend to prevent, or even to procrastinate the union of that colony with the others; and it was equally unadvisable to do any thing which might disaffect that small, but worthy body of patriotic citizens, who had set such a noble, and praise-worthy example to their more backward and temporizing neighbors. But they were relieved from their delicate and embarrassing situation by Mr. Hull himself. He proposed to debate and listen to others; and to vote only when congress did not vote by whole colonies. This proposal being acceded to, relieved them from the difficulty.

At length the colony of Georgia roused from its apathy, laid aside its opposition to a union with the other colonies, and applied to be admitted to the coalition. In the month of July, 1775, they appointed five delegates to the general congress ; among whom was Lyman Hall; who had long ex- erted himself (but in vain) to bring the whole people to act in concert; and who was, at the time of their accession, a member of congress, representing a small district only of that province.

But little more remains to be recorded of this very active and eminently useful patriot. In May, 1776, he presented new credentials, which were dated in February preceding. He was present at the time of debating the great question, which was destined to be settled by the -vote of congress; and after the question was carried, he affixed his name to the parchment, which contained an expression of what he had a long time desired should take place ; which he had used his best exertions to accomplish, and for which he strove, endured, and sacrificed much.

In 1780, Mr. Hall appeared in congress the last time. When the British took possession of Georgia, he, with his family, was compelled to leave his residence unprotected, and retire to a distance for safety. He went with them to the North ; and the existing government confiscated all his property, He returned to Georgia in 1782, before the British evacuated Savannah ; and the year following he was  appointed governor of Georgia. He subsequently settled ir Burk county, and retired from public employment; and after a few years spent in the tranquil scenes of domestic life, having recently buried his only son, he soon followed him to the grave, about the sixtieth year of his age. His general character may be easily inferred from what has been recorded o> him. He was respected in life, and lamented in death.
 -- The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, By Nathaniel Dwight, Published by A.S. Barnes & Co., 1860, Edited by Stanley l. Klos 2000
       

 

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