Born in Batavia, New York, Hall was the son of Samuel Hall, who commanded a colonial company in the War of 1812 and was a member of the Whig Party. He attended the common schools and Middleburgh (New York) Academy, and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1836 and commenced practice in Mount Pleasant, Ohio (according to some sources) or Mount Vernon, Ohio (according to his congressional biography). Hall served as assistant United States marshal in 1839, and prosecuting attorney of Union County from 1840 to 1842. In 1844 he moved to Keosauqua, a settlement in the southeast area of what was then Iowa Territory, and later the state of Iowa when Iowa was admitted to the Union in 1846. In 1852 he was chosen by the Democrats as one of the presidential electors and cast his vote for Franklin Pierce, who had carried Iowa.
In 1854, Hall was elected as a Democrat to represent Iowa's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House, defeating Whig candidate R. L. B. Clark. He served in the Thirty-fourth Congress, from March 4, 1855 to March 3, 1857. The 1854 election was the last before the establishment of the Iowa Republican Party, which for decades thereafter dominated most congressional elections in Iowa. In 1856 Hall won the Democratic nomination, but was defeated in the general election by Republican Samuel Curtis.
In 1858, President Buchanan appointed Hall as chief justice of the Nebraska Territory, which then encompassed a vast area west of the Missouri River (to the western edge of the Louisiana Purchase) and north of Kansas Territory (to the Canadian border). Upon his appointment he immediately moved to Bellevue, Nebraska. He was Chief Justice until his death in Bellevue on February 1, 1861. He was interred in Prospect Hill Cemetery in North Omaha.
Hall and his wife, Jane B. Smith Hall, were the parents of one child, Richard Smith Hall, who became a leading Omaha attorney.
- Julius Sterling Morton, Albert Watkins, George L. Miller, "Illustrated History of Nebraska," Vol. 1. pp. 348 n.5, 413 (Cedar Rapids: Torch Press 1911).
- Benjamin F. Gue, "History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century," Vol. 4 (Augustus Hall), pp. 114-15(1902).
- Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye and Telegraph, 1856-06-23 at p. 2.
- August F. Buechler, Robert J. Barr, Dale P. Stough, Bayard H Paine, "History of Hall County, Nebraska," p. 183 (Lincoln, Neb. : Western Publishing and Engraving Co., 1920).
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.