Decision gives weight to character when tempered with prudence and discretion. The individual who is uniformly perched on the pivot of uncertainty and fluttering in the wind of indetermination can never gain public confidence or exercise an extensive influence. To be truly beneficial decision must receive its momentum from the pure fountain of our own matured judgment and not depend upon others to point us to the path of duty. When the child becomes a man he should think and act as a man and draw freely from the resources of his own immortal mind. He may enjoy the reflective light of others but should depend upon the focus of his own, made more clear by reflectives. The man who pins his faith upon the sleeve of another and does not keep the lamp of his own understanding trimmed and burning, is a mere automaton in life and never fills the vacuum designed by his creation. When he makes his final exit from the stage of action he leaves no trace behind--no rich memento to tell that he once lived, moved and had a being upon the earth or bore the moral image of his God. The Sages and Heroes of the American Revolution left bright examples of self-moving action and decision of character.
Among those who were roused to exertion by the reflection of their own minds was Lyman Hall, born in Connecticut 1731. He graduated in Yale College at an early age, studied medicine, married a wife before he was twenty-one, removed to Dorchester, S. C. in 1752 and commenced the practice of medicine. After residing there a short time he joined a company of some forty families, mostly New Englanders and removed to Medway in the parish of St. John, Georgia. He became a successful practitioner and was esteemed for his prudence, discretion, clearness of perception, soundness of judgment--united with refinement of feeling, urbanity of manners, a calm and equable mind and great benevolence. He had only to be known to be appreciated. As years rolled peacefully along Dr. Hall became extensively acquainted and greatly beloved. He took great interest in the happiness of those around him and in the welfare of the people at large. He was a close observer of men and things--understood well the philosophy of human rights and the principles of the tenure by which the mother country held jurisdiction over the colonies. When the marked bounds of that jurisdiction were passed he was one of the first to meet the aggressors and point his countrymen to the innovations. As encroachments increased his patriotism grew warmer--enthusiastic zeal followed, tempered by the purest motives--guided by the soundest discretion. The indecision and temporizing spirit of Georgia, for a time, was painful to her truly patriotic sons who early espoused the cause of Liberty. It was extremely annoying to Dr. Hall but only tended to increase his exertions in the work of political regeneration. Over the people of his own district he exercised an unlimited--a judicious influence. He attended the patriotic meetings held at Savannah in 1774-5 and contributed much in promoting the glorious cause just bursting into life. His immediate constituents were with him in feeling and action. All the other colonies had united in defense of their common country determined to resist the common enemy. St. John being a frontier settlement and more exposed than any other in the province, he prudently laid the subject before his people and called upon them to choose whom they would serve. They promptly decided against domination of royalty and declared for Liberty. They at once separated from the other parishes--formed a distinct political community--applied for admission into the confederation of the other colonies--passed resolutions of non-intercourse with Savannah so long as it remained under kingly authority except to obtain the absolute necessaries of life and organized committees to carry these patriotic and decisive measures into effect. Placed on such an eminence they were welcomed into the general compact as men worthy of freedom. In March 1775 they elected Lyman Hall to the Continental Congress to represent the parish of St. John that stood like an isolated island of granite in the ocean regardless of the waves of fury that were foaming around it. This example had a powerful influence on the other parishes. From this lump of liberty-leaven the whole mass became rapidly impregnated--rose beautifully and was admirably baked in freedom's oven and soon fit for use. In July following Dr. Hall had the proud satisfaction of seeing Georgia fully represented by men honest and true--always excepting Judas Iscariot _alias_ Zubly. To Dr. Hall may be justly attributed the first impetus given to the revolutionary ball in his district which was formed into a new county in 1777 and named LIBERTY.
On taking his seat in Congress Dr. Hall was hailed with enthusiasm as the nucleus of patriotism that would eventually draw to one common center the people of his province. He was a valuable acquisition to the various committees on which he was placed and gained the esteem of all around him. On the floor he was listened to with profound attention. He reasoned closely and calmly, confining himself to the question under consideration without any effort to shine as an orator. His known patriotism, decision of character, purity of purpose and honesty of heart--gave him a salutary influence that was sensibly felt, fully acknowledged and judiciously exercised. In 1776 he again took his seat in Congress and became decidedly in favor of cutting loose from the mother country. He had induced his own district to present a miniature example that stood approved by every patriot. He felt the justice of the cause of Liberty. He believed Providence would direct a successful result. He was fully convinced the set time had come to free the colonies. With such feelings he hailed the birth day of our Independence as the grand jubilee of LIBERTY. He cheerfully joined in passing the mighty Rubicon--aided in preparing the sarcophagus of tyranny and signed the certificate of freedom with a joyful heart.
He was continued in Congress up to 1780 when he took his final leave of that body where he had rendered faithful and important service. In 1782 he returned to his own State and aided in rendering more perfect the organization of her government. The enemy had destroyed his property and wreaked a special vengeance on his district generally. His family had been compelled to fly to the North and depend on the bounty of others for support. In 1783 he was elected Governor of Georgia and contributed largely in perfecting the superstructure of her civil institutions and in placing her on the high road to peace and prosperity. This accomplished he retired from public life under the broad banner of an honest and well earned fame. He then settled in Burke County where he was again permitted to pursue the even tenor of his ways and enjoy the highest of all earthly pleasure--the domestic fireside with his own dear family. Calmly and quietly he glided down the stream of time until 1790 when he closed his eyes upon the transitory scenes of earth--entered the dark valley of death and disappeared from mortals to enjoy a blissful immortality. He was deeply mourned by his relatives and numerous acquaintances and by every patriot in our nation. His name is perpetuated in Georgia by a county being named after him as a tribute of respect for his valuable services.
Dr. Hall was among those who do good for the sake of goodness--not to be seen of men and applauded by the world. In person his appearance was prepossessing. He was full six feet in height with a graceful deportment and benignant countenance. His examples are worthy of imitation. Without the luminous talents that tower to the skies in a blaze of glory that dazzles every eye--he rendered himself substantially and widely useful. He was like a gentle stream that passes through a verdant field producing irrigation in its course without overflowing and tearing up its banks. Decision of character, prudence in action and discretion in all things marked his whole career. Not a stain tarnishes the bright lustre of his public fame or private character. He lived nobly and died peacefully. With such men our UNION is safe.
Source: Sages and Heroes of the American Revolution, by L. Carroll Judson: Copyright, 1854 Available for download at the Project Gutenberg website.