Religious Convictions of America's Founders: Lyman Hall
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Lyman Hall, Georgia. An ordained Congregational minister, Lyman Hall later became a medical doctor. He boldly espoused liberation from kingly rule, and became a leader and spokesman for the Puritans in St. John’s Parish, which was situated in the town of Sunbury.
Because Parliament had awarded Georgia great sums of money, the royal party was strong, and Georgia's Royal Governor James Wright wished to continue receiving financial bounty and favors from his "royal master." Gov. Wright was able to delay Georgia's representation in the Continental Congress, so there were no Georgia delegates appointed to the1774 session in Philadelphia. Ultimately, the people of St. John’s Parish voted to send Dr. Hall as their independent delegate to the Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.
Dr. Hall continued in Congress until 1780, when the British troops occupied Savannah and overran Sunbury and Liberty County. On the advice of General Washington, Dr. Hall took his wife and son and fled the state to Connecticut. Absent for two years, he suffered great financial loss from the British confiscation of his home and plantation.
In January, 1783, he was elected Governor of the State of Georgia. On July 8, 1783, Governor Hall convened the Legislature in Augusta and called upon them to “enact wholesome laws restraining vice and to encourage the introduction of religion and learned clergy to perform divine worship in honor of God, and to cultivate the principles of religion and virtue among our citizens”. He also called on them to grant tracts of land and endow institutions of learning. 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, which became the parent of higher education and civilization in Georgia.
"While all were rejoicing the blessings of independence and the removal of the hated British troops, poverty, sorrow and desolation were the heritage of many homes in Georgia. He (Governor Lyman Hall) had agreed to serve for only one year, so the energies of his administration were chiefly directed to establishment of land offices and sale of confiscated property; to the arrangement of the public debt; to the rewarding of officers and soldiers with bounty warrants for services rendered; to working toward the accommodation of differences and preventing disturbances with Florida; to the establishment of courts and schools; and most importantly, with the consummation of treaties of cession and friendship with Cherokee and Creek Indians. All that, and there were no in-place bureaus and departments of aides to formulate and carry out the plans to accomplish it. See The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.