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|Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware|
December 9, 1823 – December 6, 1871
|Appointed by||James Monroe|
|Preceded by||John Fisher|
|Succeeded by||Edward G. Bradford|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Delaware's Second At-large district
March 4, 1817 – January 22, 1821
|Preceded by||Thomas Cooper|
|Succeeded by||Caesar A. Rodney|
|Born||December 24, 1780|
|Died||May 10, 1875 (aged 94)|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
Willard Hall (December 24, 1780 – May 10, 1875), was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as U.S. Representative from Delaware and as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. He was active in establishing public education in the state of Delaware, served as the first president of the Delaware Historical Society, was president of the state Bible society, and was instrumental in the formation of the Wilmington Savings Fund Society as a community bank, serving as its president for more than 40 years.
Early life and family
Hall was born in Westford, Massachusetts, son of the Rev. Willard Hall and Mehitable Pool. He attended the public schools and Westford Academy, then entered Harvard University in 1795, graduating in 1799. In 1800, he began to study law under Judge Dana at Groton, Massachusetts, and was admitted to the bar in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire in 1803.
In the same year, an attraction to Delaware by James A. Bayard and a belief that New England already enjoyed an overabundance of lawyers, caused Hall to relocate. He was admitted to the Delaware Bar, commencing practice in Dover, Delaware in May 1803. In 1806, he married Junia Killen, the daughter of Chancellor William Killen and they had a daughter, Lucinda. Junia died in 1826 and Hall married Harriet Hillyard.
Professional and political career
Hall's first public service was as Secretary of State of Delaware from 1811 to 1814, serving again from 1821 until 1823. He was elected as a Jeffersonian Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 15th and 16th Congresses, serving until January 22, 1821. He resigned after becoming an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the 17th Congress in 1820. He also served a year in the 47th Delaware Senate in 1822.
On May 6, 1823 Hall received a recess appointment from President James Monroe to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware vacated by John Fisher. Hall was formally nominated on December 5, 1823, and four days later was confirmed by the United States Senate and received his commission. He served on the court until December 6, 1871, over 48 years, when he retired, making him one of the longest-served United States federal judges.
Hall was a delegate from Dover, Delaware to the State constitutional convention in 1821 and moved to Wilmington, Delaware in 1825 where he served as compiler of the Revised Code of Delaware in 1829. Later he served as president of the Wilmington School Board from 1852 until 1870. Hall was also the first president of the Delaware Historical Society.
In September 1831, Hall was among twenty-five founding members elected to serve on the board of the newly formed Wilmington Savings Fund Society, a community bank designed to provide persons with only modest savings a safe place to deposit their funds. On October 1, 1831, Hall was elected president of the bank, a position he held until 1872, when he retired at the age of 92.
Hall is generally considered to have been the founder of public education in Delaware. In 1822, while Secretary of State, he created a plan for the improvement of public schools that received the vocal support of Governor Collins and several governors who followed. In 1829 the bulk of the ideas were enacted into law. They provided for the formation of school districts, for holding and regulating meetings of the school voters, and giving the voters full control of the schools in their respective district. The voters were to hold a meeting every year, elect a clerk and two commissioners and set a budget and administer it. But there were many problems in enacting the plans and the original law was frequently modified. Hall continued as the key advocate for public education and served as superintendent of the schools in New Castle County until 1855.
Death and legacy
He died at Wilmington and is buried there in the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery, of which he had been a founder.
Elections were held the first Tuesday of October and members of the General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. State Senators had a three-year term. U.S. Representatives took office March 4 and have a two-year term.
|Office||Type||Location||Began office||Ended office||notes|
|Secretary of State||Executive||Dover||1811||1814||appointed|
|U.S. Representative||Legislature||Washington||March 4, 1817||January 22, 1821|
|Secretary of State||Executive||Dover||1821||1823||appointed|
|State Senator||Legislature||Dover||January 6, 1822||January 5, 1823|
|U.S. District Judge||Judiciary||Dover||December 9, 1823||December 6, 1871||appointed|
|Delaware General Assembly service|
|1822||47th||State Senate||Republican||Joseph Haslet
|United States Congressional service|
|1817–1819||15th||U.S. House||Republican||James Monroe||2nd at-large|
|1819–1821||16th||U.S. House||Republican||James Monroe||2nd at-large|
|1814||U.S. Representative||Willard Hall||Republican||2,547||20%||Thomas Cooper||Federalist||3,960||30%|
|1816||U.S. Representative||Willard Hall||Republican||3,534||24%||Caleb Rodney||Federalist||3,433||23%|
|1818||U.S. Representative||Willard Hall||Republican||3,007||25%||Thomas Clayton||Federalist||2,902||23%|
|1820||U.S. Representative||Willard Hall||Republican||3,525||24%||Louis McLane||Federalist||3,918||27%|
- Hall 1883, p. 524.
- Hall 1883, p. 525.
- Hall 1883, p. 526.
- "WSFS Founder's Day Ceremony" October 1, 2013
- Hall 1883, p. 525.
- Conrad, Henry C. (1908). History of the State of Delaware. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wickersham Company.
- Hall, David Brainerd (1883). The Halls of New England: Genealogical and Biographical. Albany, New York: J. Munsell's Sons.
- Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
- Martin, Roger A. (1984). A History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press.
- Scharf, John Thomas (1888). History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co.
- Wilson, Emerson. (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Deltos Publishing Company.
- Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Delaware's Members of Congress
- Find A Grave
- The Political Graveyard
Places with more information
- Delaware Historical Society; website; 505 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801; (302) 655-7161
- University of Delaware; Library website; 181 South College Avenue, Newark, Delaware 19717; (302) 831-2965
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district
March 4, 1817 – January 22, 1821
Caesar A. Rodney
Gunning Bedford, Jr.
| Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware
Edward Green Bradford