David Hall (January 4, 1752 – September 18, 1817) was an American lawyer and politician from Lewes, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and member of the Democratic-Republican Party, who served as Governor of Delaware.
==Early life and family==
Hall was born in Lewes, Delaware, son of David and Mary Kollock Hall. His grandfather was Nathaniel Hall, who known as “the Indian Fighter.” He came to Delaware from Connecticut in 1700. His father, David Hall, Sr. was a well known farmer from around Lewes, who was a Justice of the Peace and a frequent member of the Colonial Assembly from 1753 until the American Revolution. In 1776, David Jr. married Catherine Tingley, daughter of Samuel Tingley, the Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. They had six children: Elizabeth, Mary, Jane, Catherine, Lydia, and Martha. In time he built a home at 107 Kings Highway, across the road from the Zwaanandael Museum. They were members of the Lewes Presbyterian Church.
Hall studied law and was admitted to the Bar in New Castle, Delaware, in 1773. Already a member of the Sussex County militia under General Dagworthy, he joined the 1st Delaware Regiment at the beginning of the War of Independence and served as captain under Colonel John Haslet at the battles of Long Island and White Plains. Following Haslet’s death at Princeton in January 1777, he became the leader of the regiment, and was promoted to colonel in April 1777. He led the regiment at the Battle of Brandywine and again at the Battle of Germantown where he was wounded on October 4, 1777. The following year he spent recovering, recruiting new soldiers in Wilmington and serving on Courts Martial. He returned to active service in June 1779 at the Middlebrook encampment, spent the inactive summer with the regiment, but returned home in October 1779, complaining of his wound and lack of provisioning. When the Delaware Regiment went to South Carolina in April 1780, Hall did not go. Responding to his continuing requests, the General Assembly authorized some payment, but it was never enough, and finally, in April 1782, Hall resigned his commission.
Meanwhile Hall pursued his law practice in Lewes and entered politics. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat-Republican, like most Presbyterians, but in Anglican Lewes, he was in the minority. He was badly beaten by Federalist Richard Bassett, when he ran for Governor in 1798. He ran again in 1801 against Episcopalian Nathaniel Mitchell, a professed “Deist,” and a person openly critical of Methodists. Hall emphasized his Presbyterian faith, and in spite of losing Kent and Sussex Counties again badly, he won Presbyterians in New Castle County by such a large margin that he carried the state by 18 votes. The Federalists considered using the recently passed Alien and Sedition Acts to try to nullify some of the recent immigrant New Castle County vote, but with their continued control of the General Assembly, they grudgingly “allowed” him to take office.
Hall served as Governor from January 19, 1802 until January 15, 1805. During this time Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours bought the old Jacob Broom cotton mills on Brandywine Creek and began his gunpowder business. This was also the point of the greatest abolitionist sentiment in Delaware, when the General Assembly failed by one vote to enact a gradual emancipation bill.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House in 1805 against James M. Broom; and again in 1812 for the seat won by the Federalist candidate, Thomas Cooper. The next year he was named a judge of the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas.
==Death and legacy==
Hall died at Lewes, and is buried there in the Lewes Presbyterian Church cemetery.
The Col. David Hall House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Elections were held the first Tuesday of October. The Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and had a three-year term. Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas were selected by the General Assembly for the life of the person appointed.