Hall, Lyman and Gwinnett, Button

The lives of the two signers of the Declaration of Independence from St. John’s Parish, now Liberty County, Georgia, were singularly parallel. Neither was a native of the colony of Georgia-Lyman Hall was born in New England and Button Gwinnett was born in England. Both men had been comfortably settled in the parish and were large land owners prior to the Revolu­tionary War. They were members of the Second Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia in February 1776 and were signers of the Decla­ration of Independence. Both became prominent in political affairs of the state of Georgia – Gwinnett as president and commander-in-chief in 1777 and Hall as governor of the state in 1783. They had counties in Georgia named for them and both died in this state.


Several years after Hall settled in the Midway District, which was included in St. John’s Parish in 1758, Button Gwinnett arrived on the scene and established his home on St. Catherine’s Island. The two soon became friends, which proved to be an ill-fated friendship, for Hall was the leader of the revolutionary movement in St. John’s Parish, and he influenced Gwinnett to join the group. Had Gwinnett followed his own inclination to take a neutral stand, he might not have had an untimely death in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh, his bitter political rival, who was also the enemy of Lyman Hall.


Hall and Gwinnett were attracted to the Midway District because of the Sunbury harbor and its shipping advantages with easy access to the inland waterway, and also because of the large rice plantations which made the parish one of the most important and prosperous sections of the country.