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Lyman Hall was a native of Connecticut, where he was born about the year 1731. After receiving a collegiate education, and having acquired a competent knowledge of the theory and practice of medicine, he removed, in 1752, to South Carolina. He was induced, however, during the same year, to remove to Georgia, where he established himself at Sunbury, in the district of Medway. In this place be continued attending to the duties of his profession, until the commencement of the revolutionary contest.
On the arrival of this important crisis in the history of the Colonies, the patriotism of Doctor Hall became greatly excited to the interests and dangers of his country. He perceived that the approaching storm must necessarily be severe; but with the kindred spirits of the north, he was determined to meet it with patriotic firmness and resolution. Having accepted of a situation in the parish of St. John, which was a frontier settlement, both his person and property were exposed to great danger, from his proximity to the Creek Indians and to the royal province of Florida.
The parish of St. John, at an early period of the contest, entered with great spirit into the general opposition of the country against Great Britain, while a majority of the inhabitants of Georgia entertained different sentiments. So widely different were the views and feelings of the people of this parish from those of the inhabitants of the province generally, that an almost entire separation took place between them.
In July, 1774, the friends of liberty held a general meeting at Savannah, where Doctor Hall appeared as a representative of the parish of St. John. The measures, however, adopted at that time, fell far short of the wishes both of this patriot and his constituents. In January, 1775, another meeting was held at Savannah, at which it was agreed to petition the king for a redress of grievances, and for relief from the arbitrary acts of the British ministry.
The parish of St. John, dissatisfied with the temporizing policy of the Savannah convention, in the following month made application to the committee of correspondence in Charleston, South Carolina, to form an alliance with them, by which their trade and commerce should be conducted on the principles of the non-importation association. The patriotic views and feelings of this independent people were highly applauded by the committee, but they found themselves under the necessity, by the rules of the continental association, of declining the alliance.
Upon receiving this denial, the inhabitants of St. John agreed to pursue such independent measures as, the patriotic principles which they had adopted should appear to justify. Accordingly, they resolved not to purchase slaves imported into Savannah, nor to hold any commercial intercourse with that city, nor with surrounding parishes, unless for the necessaries of life, and these to be purchased by direction of a committee. Having taken this independent stand, they next proceeded to choose a representative to congress, and on counting the votes, it was found that Doctor Hall was unanimously elected.
In the following May, Doctor Hall appeared in the hall of congress, and by that body was unanimously admitted to a seat. But, as he represented not the colony of Georgia, but only a parish of the colony, it was at the same time resolved to reserve the question as to his right to vote for the further deliberation of the congress.
The above question at length coming before the house, on the occasion of congress taking the opinions of its members by colonies, Doctor Hall expressed his willingness to give his vote only in those cases in which the sentiments of congress were not taken by colonies. Fortunately for the cause of liberty, on the 15th of July, 1775, the convention of Georgia acceded to the general confederacy, and proceeded to the appointment of five delegates to congress, three of whom attended at the adjourned meeting of that body, September 13, 1775.
Among the delegates thus appointed, Dr. Hall was one. To this station he was annually re-elected until 1780, at the close of which year he finally retired from the national legislature.
At length Georgia fell temporarily into the power of the British. On this event, Doctor Hall removed his family to the north, and suffered the confiscation of all his property by the British government established in the state. In 1782, he returned to Georgia, and in the following year was elected to the chief magistracy of the state.
After enjoying this office for a time, he retired from the cares of public life, and about the sixtieth year of his age, died at his residence in the county of Burke, whither he had removed.
Doctor Hall in his person, was tall and well proportioned. In his manners he was easy, and in his deportment dignified and courteous. He was by nature characterized for a warm and enthusiastic disposition, which, however, was under the guidance of a sound discretion. His mind was active and discriminating. Ardent in his own feelings, he possessed the power of exciting others to action; and though in congress he acted not so conspicuous a part as many others, yet his example and his exertions, especially in connection with those of the inhabitants of the circumscribed parish of St. John, powerfully contributed to the final accession of the whole colony of Georgia to the confederacy; thus presenting in array against the mother country the whole number of her American colonies.
Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 455-457. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)
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