1848: Benjamin Homer Hall to Daniel Hall

This letter was written by eighteen year-old Benjamin H. Hall during his sophomore year at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is addressed to his father, Daniel Hall (1787-1868). There are references in the letter to his mother, Anjinettte (Fitch) Hall, his sister, Mary Hall, and his brother FitzEdward (“Fitz”) Hall, who was then living in Calcutta, India. Biographies of Daniel Hall, Benjamin H. Hall, and FitzEdward Hall follow the transcription of the letter below.

References are also made of the upcoming presidential election in which General Zachery Taylor, nominated by the Whig Party, was pitted against Martin Van Buren, the “Free-soilers” nominee.

Hall to Hall, Page 1

Hall to Hall, Page 2

Hall to Hall, Page 3


Cambridge, [Massachusetts]
October 12, 1848

Dear Father,

In answer to my letters dated 21st and 30th ult., yours of 2nd inst. was duly received containing an interesting epitome of the journey of you and Mother. I hope that you both may have received benefit therefrom. In reference to the boil which I then had, I have to state that after being kept in with it for 3 days, on Sunday eve, 1 Oct, I sent for Dr. [Morrill] Wyman who cut it open. His lancet went through skin about an eighth of an inch thick before it came to the substance of the boil. On the next Tuesday, I went out again and am now perfectly well.

Your excuse answered every purpose. The President enquired after your health. Mr. Sophocles handed me a letter in Greek to send to Fitz whenever we send a box. Also Mr. Hanis a letter. I made a call on Mr. Sophocles a few days since and found him in excellent spirits. I expect on Saturday to visit Mrs. Dow at Roxbury.

Mr. I. D. Bradley has been at Cambridge during this week. Our exhibition comes off on Tuesday next, and we also have a holiday on the Wednesday of the week after at which time there is to be a grand procession in Boston at the completion of the water works.

The weather is now delightful, cool mornings and nights, and beautiful, bright, sunshiny days. Really it is the Indian summer – the pleasantest part of the year.

Did you hear from [my brother] Fitz by the last steamer? In one of my former letters, I wrote to you inquiring for the proper direction of a letter to Fitz, but have received no answer. Will you please to inform me in your next?

John Gorham Palfrey

The people of Cambridge, like the people of every other place, are excited on the subject of the presidential election, but I do not much enter into the spirit of the day as other things of a much more important nature to me certainly present themselves. I sent you a little pamphlet styled General Taylor and Wilmot Proviso, which contains I think a pretty true statement of facts. Mr. [John Gorham] Palfray spoke in behalf of Martin Van Buren at Cambridge about a week since – also at Watertown.

Our class will be small during the winter. Two or three who have injured their constitutions by living in a wrong manner leave this week for China, Fayal (Azore’s Islands), &c. About eight or ten are going to teach after Thanksgiving. On Saturday, I will attend to the watches in Boston.

But you must have long since perceived that I have nothing which is worth writing about. Tell [my sister] Mary that her letter is forthcoming. Tell Mother she must answer mine, as her journey and the old town of Norwalk will afford her sufficient theme for remark. Give my love to all the family.

I remain, your affectionate son,
Benjamin Homer Hall


Article in Troy Record (1971) on Daniel Hall and his sons

Benjamin Homer Hall

Lawyer and author, was born at Troy, NY, November 14, 1830, a son of Daniel Hall, lawyer (born at Winchester, VT, July 17, 1787; died at Troy, December 10, 1868), and Anjinette (Fitch) Hall (born in New York City, June 21, 1800; died at Troy, February 25, 1884). He was prepared for college at private schools and at Phillip’s Andover Academy, and was graduated from Harvard in 1851. On the completion of his college course he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1856, and engaged in the practice of law at Troy. He was City Clerk in 1858 and Chamberlain of Troy from 1874 to 1877 and again from 1884 to 1885. Mr. Hall was widely known as an author and historian. While at college he published a work entitled, “A Collection of College Words and Customs,” of which a second and enlarged edition appeared in 1856. In 1858 he published “A History of Eastern Vermont from its Settlement to the Close of the Eighteenth Century, with a Biographical Chapter and Appendices.”

The Hall Building (now called Rice Building) in Troy, NY. Hall had it built in 1871.

He was the author of a descriptive catalogue of books and pamphlets relating to Vermont. This work, which was published in 1860, was the third of the series known as the “Bibliography of the Unites States.”  From April 1878 to August 1880, he was the editor of the “Troy Morning Whig.” On June 1, 1859, he married Margaret McCoun Lane, daughter of the late Jacob L. Lane, of Troy. Mr. Hall died April 6, 1893.

Source: New York State Men, biographical studies and character portraits, Vol II., by Frederick Simon Hills.

Daniel Hall

William Czar Bradley of Westminster, VT; mentor of Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall, son of Lot and Mary (Homer) Hall. Born in Westminster, VT, July 17, 1787. Prepared for College with William Czar Bradley, Westminster. Studied law with Amasa Paine, Windsor, 1805, and William M. Bliss, Troy, NY, 1806-1809. Admitted to the bar in Troy, 1809. Lawyer in partnership with Amasa Paine, Troy, 1809-1814. Secretary of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Insurance Company and director of various banks. At the time of his death his was the oldest name born on the rolls of the Rensselaer County bar. Married Anjinette Fitch, April 19, 1819. Children: Mary Olivia; George Canning; Benjamin Homer; Fitz Edward; Reichard F.; James Stevenon.  A.B., and Dartmouth, 1805. Died at Troy, NY, Dec. 10, 1868.

Source: Catalogue of Officers and Students of Middlebury College

FitezEdward Hall

FitzEdward Hall (1825-1901), philologist, born at Troy, NY, on 21 March 1825, was eldest in the family of five sons and one daughter of Daniel Hall, lawyer, by his wife Anginetta Fitch. A younger brother, Benjamin Homer Hall, was a barrister and was city chamberlain of New York (1874-7 and 1884-5). After education at his native town, at Walpole, New Hampshire, and Poughkeepsie, Hall took the civil engineer’s degree at Troy Rensselaer polytechnic in 1842. He early showed a passion for English words and phrases, which grew with  his maturer years. He entered Harvard in 1846, but before his ‘commencement’ he was sent early in 1846 to Calcutta in pursuit of a runaway brother. Wrecked off the Ganges in September, and compelled for the moment to stay in India, Hall took lessons in Hindustani and Sanskrit, and finally resolved to remain in order to master the languages. After three years in Calcutta (where he studied Hindustani, Persian, Bengalee, and Sanskrit) and five months at Ghazipur, Hall removed to Beanares in January 1850. At the government college there Hall was appointed tutor in February 1850 and professor of Sanskrit and English in 1853. In July 1855, he became ….

Source: Dictionary of National Biography by Sir Leslie Stephen

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