John W. Hall
44th Governor of Delaware
In office
January 21, 1879 – January 16, 1883
Preceded byJohn P. Cochran
Succeeded byCharles C. Stockley
Member of the Delaware Senate
In office
January 6, 1867 – January 6, 1871
In office
January 6, 1891 – January 6, 1895
Personal details
Born(1817-01-01)January 1, 1817
Frederica, Delaware
DiedJanuary 23, 1892(1892-01-23) (aged 75)
Frederica, Delaware
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Caroline Warren

John Wood Hall (January 1, 1817 – January 23, 1892) was an American merchant and politician from Frederica, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as Governor of Delaware.

Early life and family

Hall was born in Frederica, Delaware, son of John and Henrietta Bowman Hall. He married Caroline Warren in 1842 and had four children: John Wood, Jr., Samuel Warren, Sarah Henrietta, and Caroline. They lived at 8 David Street in Frederica and were members of the Methodist Church.

Orphaned as a child, Hall worked in a candy store, and eventually saved enough money to buy the business. Not stopping with candy, he expanded into general merchandising and lumber, and then started building his own ships. In time, he had one of the largest fleets of sailing ships on the east coast, all built in Delaware. With his earnings he began buying land and ended up with over 6,000 acres (24 km2) on 20 farms, becoming one of the largest landowners in the state.

Professional and political career

Hall served in the Delaware Senate during the 1867/68 session and the 1869/70 session. In 1874 he was nearly nominated for governor, but it was New Castle County's turn in the informal rotation. Finally, in 1878 he was elected Governor of Delaware, overwhelmingly defeating Kensey J. Steward, the Greenback Labor candidate. Leftover bitterness from the Civil War caused the Democratic Party to be so completely in control that the Republican Party did not even hold a convention or field a candidate. Hall served from January 21, 1879 until January 16, 1883.

The Democratic Party was the conservative party of the day, and accordingly Hall supported conservative positions. He was a strong supporter of states' rights in opposition to the increasing reach of the federal government. Then that reach was generally in support of racial equality, a concept strongly opposed by Democrats in Delaware. Hall did support the setting up of a separate state Board of Education, and an office of Insurance Commissioner. All the while he was governor he was also a director of the Farmers' Bank of Delaware, having served from 1861 until he left office in 1883. After several years out of office he returned to the Delaware Senate for the 1891/92 and 1893/94 sessions, serving there until his death.

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority Speaker House Majority Speaker
1879–1880 80th Democratic Charles J. Harrington Democratic Swithin Chandler
1881–1882 81st Democratic Cateby F. Rust Democratic Reynear Williams

Death and legacy

Hall died at Frederica and is buried near there at Barratt's Chapel Cemetery. His home at Frederica is a contributing property in the Frederica Historic District.[1]


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. State senators have a four-year term. The governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Senator Legislature Dover January 6, 1867 January 6, 1871
Governor Executive over January 21, 1879 January 16, 1883
State Senator Legislature Dover January 6, 1891 January 6, 1895
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1867–1868 74th State Senate Democratic Gove Saulsbury Kent at-large
1869–1870 75th State Senate Democratic Gove Saulsbury Kent at-large
1891–1892 86th State Senate Democratic Robert J. Reynolds Kent at-large
1893–1894 87th State Senate Democratic Robert J. Reynolds Kent at-large
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1878 Governor John W. Hall Democratic 10,730 79% Kensey J. Stewart Greenback Labor 2,835 21%


  1. ^ Sue Fox and Linda Lounsbury (1976–1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Frederica Historic District". National Park Service. and accompanying 24 photos


Places with more information

Party political offices Preceded byJohn P. Cochran Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware 1878 Succeeded byCharles C. Stockley Political offices Preceded byJohn P. Cochran Governor of Delaware 1879–1883 Succeeded byCharles C. Stockley