Lyman Hall

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Lyman Hall
Lyman Hall.jpg
Governor of Georgia
In office
January 8, 1783 – January 9, 1784
Preceded byJohn Martin
Succeeded byJohn Houstoun
Delegate from Georgia to the
Continental Congress
In office
Personal details
BornApril 12, 1724
Wallingford, Connecticut
DiedOctober 19, 1790(1790-10-19) (aged 66)
Burke County, Georgia
Political partyPro-Administration
Medical Doctor
Member Continental Congress
founder of University of Georgia

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 after him. He was one of four physicians to sign the Declaration of Independence, alongside Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania and Josiah Bartlett and Matthew Thornton, both from New Hampshire.

Early life and family[edit]

Coat of Arms of Lyman Hall

Lyman Hall was born on April 12, 1724, in Wallingford, Connecticut. He was the son of John Hall, a minister,[1] and Mary (née Street) Hall.[2] Lyman Hall studied with his uncle Samuel Hall[3] and graduated from Yale College in 1747,[4] a tradition in his family. In 1749, he was called to the pulpit of Stratfield Parish (now Bridgeport, Connecticut). His pastorate was a stormy one: an outspoken group of parishioners opposed his ordination; in 1751, he was dismissed after charges against his moral character which, according to one biography, "Were supported by proof and also by his own confession." He continued to preach for two more years, filling vacant pulpits, while he studied medicine and taught school.

In 1752, he married Abigail Burr of Fairfield, Connecticut, however, she died the following year.[1][3] In 1757, he was married again to Mary Osborne.[5] He migrated to South Carolina and established himself as a physician at Dorchester, South Carolina, near Charleston,[3] a community settled by Congregationalist migrants from Dorchester, Massachusetts decades earlier. When these settlers moved to the Midway District – now Liberty County – in Georgia, Hall accompanied them. Hall soon became one of the leading citizens of the newly founded town, Sunbury.

Revolutionary War[edit]

On the eve of the American Revolution, St. John's Parish, in which Sunbury was located, was a hotbed of radical sentiment in a predominantly loyalist colony. Though Georgia was not initially represented in the First Continental Congress, through Hall's influence, the parish was persuaded to send a delegate – Hall himself – to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the Second Continental Congress. He was admitted to a seat in Congress in 1775. He was one of the three Georgians to sign the Declaration of Independence, and one of four doctors to sign the Declaration of Independence.[6]

In January 1779, Sunbury was burned by the British. Hall's family fled to the North, where they remained until the British evacuation in 1782. Hall then returned to Georgia, settling in Savannah. In January 1783, he was elected an early governor of the state – a position that he held for one year. While governor, Hall advocated the chartering of a state university, believing that education, particularly religious education, would result in a more virtuous citizenry. His efforts led to the chartering of the University of Georgia in 1785. At the expiration of his term as governor, he resumed his medical practice.

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1790, Hall moved to a plantation in Burke County, Georgia, on the Carolina border, where he died on October 19 at the age of 66. Hall's widow, Mary Osborne, survived later dying in November 1793.

Lyman Hall is memorialized in Georgia where Hall County, Georgia bears his name; and in Connecticut, his native state, where the town of Wallingford honored him by naming a high school after its distinguished native son. Elementary schools in Liberty County, Georgia and in Hall County, Georgia are also named for him.

Signers Monument, a granite obelisk in front of the courthouse in Augusta, Georgia, memorializes Hall and the other two Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence. His remains were re-interred there in 1848 after being exhumed from his original grave on his plantation in Burke County.

In popular culture[edit]

Lyman Hall is portrayed in the 1969 Broadway musical 1776 and in the 1972 film of the same name by Jonathan Moore. As presented in the play and in the film, Hall is a recently appointed representative of Georgia in the Second Continental Congress. As he is introduced to Delaware's representative, Caesar Rodney, the latter asks if he is a doctor of medicine or theology, Hall answers that he practices both and upon asking of which he could be of service, Rodney replies, "By all means, the physician first. Then we shall see about the other." Later in the film, as Rodney begins to experience shortness of breath due to his cancer, Hall is called upon to escort Rodney home.

Georgia, as Hall states, is divided over the matter of independence, with its people opposed to it, and Hall himself in favor of it. Unsure whether, as a representative, he should follow the judgement of the people or that of his own, Hall decides Georgia's vote to be "Nay". Towards the film's climax, during a critical point in the struggle of John Adams to convince his fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress to choose independence, Hall re-enters the chamber during the night to reconsider Georgia's vote. Unable to sleep, he tells Adams that he had been thinking: "In trying to resolve my dilemma I remembered something I'd once read, 'that a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.' It was written by Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament." Hall then walks over to the tally board and changes Georgia's vote to "Yes."


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Dexter 1896

  1. ^ a b Garraty & Carnes 1990, p. 865–66
  2. ^ Cook 2005, p. 50
  3. ^ a b c Dexter 1896, p. 116–19
  4. ^ United States Congress
  5. ^ Young 2010
  6. ^ Rosen 1976, p. 397–398


  • Cook, James F. (2005). The Governors of Georgia, 1754–2004. Mercer University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-86554-954-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Dexter, Franklin Bowditch (1896). "Lyman Hall". Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: May 1745-May 1763. Holt. pp. 116–19.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Garraty, John Arthur; Carnes, Mark Christopher (1990). American national biography. Internet Archive. New York: Oxford University Press. American Council of Learned Societies. pp. 865–66. ISBN 0-19-520635-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Rosen, George (April 1976). "Benjamin Rush on Health and the American Revolution". American Journal of Public Health. 66 (4): 397–398. doi:10.2105/ajph.66.4.397. PMC 1653277. PMID 773197.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • United States Congress. "Lyman Hall (id: H000061)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  • Young, James Harvey (2010). American National Biography. London: Oxford University Press. Retrieved May 24, 2016.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Martin
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
John Houstoun