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.
Early life and family
Connecticut, on April 12, 1724, Lyman Hall was the son of John
Hall and Mary Street.
His paternal grandfather, Hon. John
Hall (1670 to 1730), was a member of the Governor's Council and a
Justice of the colony's supreme court. His maternal grandfather was
Rev. Samuel Street (Harvard 1664), Wallingford's first
Hall graduated from Yale College
1747 and studied theology with his uncle, Rev Samuel Hall
(1695-1776; Yale 1716) in
Cheshire, CT. In 1749, he was called to the pulpit of Stratfield
Parish (now Bridgeport, CT). 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
he married Abigail Burr of Fairfield, Connecticut, however, she died the following year.
1757, he married again to Mary Osborne. He migrated to
established himself as a physician at Dorchester,
South Carolina, near Charleston, a community settled by Congregationalist migrants
Massachusetts decades earlier. When these settlers
moved to the Midway
District now Liberty
County in Georgia, Hall accompanied them.
became one of the leading citizens of the newly founded town of
On the eve of the American
, 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
He was admitted to a seat in Congress in 1775,
a seat that he held until 1780. He was one of the three Georgians
to sign the Declaration of Independence.
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
In January 1783, he was elected an early
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
Georgia in 1785.
At the expiration of his term as
governor, he resumed his medical practice.
Death and legacy
Hall removed 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
him, dying in November 1793. His one son, John, died shortly after
and left no children of his own.
Lyman Hall is memorialized in Georgia 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
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 from his original grave on his plantation in
In popular culture
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, at a critical point in the
struggle of John Adams
to convince his
fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress
choose independence, Hall re-enters the chamber to change Georgia's
vote. He says he has 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
Hall then walks over to the tally board
and changes Georgia's vote from "no" to "yes".
- Franklin B. Dexter. 1896. "Lyman Hall." In BIOGRAPHICAL
SKETCHES OF THE GRADUATES OF YALE COLLEGE, 1745-1763. New
York: Henry Holt & Company.
- Charles S. Hall. 1896. HALL ANCESTRY. New York: G.P.