OLIVER GRAY HALL was born in South Thomaston, Maine on March
8, 1834 and died in Augusta on January 30, 1914). He was a descendent of early
Boston settler Isaac Hull, who commanded the USS Constitution in her victory
over the Guerriere in 1812, which was the first important battle of the War of
1812. Hall was admitted to the Knox
County, Maine, Bar in 1860. During his lifetime, he lived in Rockland,
Waterville and Augusta. Hall held a number of political offices, serving as Rockland
City Solicitor, Register of Probate in Knox County, judge of Rockland Municipal
Court, Judge of Police Court, member of the Board of Aldermen, Maine Tax
Commissioner and Judge of Kennebec Superior Court, appointed by Gov. Burleigh.
Offering 39 diaries, covering many years – but not all -- from 1854 through 1912, along with his wallet. In pencil and ink and various sizes, with sporadic and generally short entries, Hall’s diaries provide a treasure trove of information on a vast number of topics, offering a thorough view into his life with his early involvement in the temperance movement, his many judicial cases, some influenced by his anti-liquor stance, and many important American events, including discussion about the admission of slave states in the union, intricate details of the controversial election of President Rutherford B. Hayes, federal troops being sent to South Carolina and Louisiana to protect those counting votes, the later death of Hayes, the elections and assassinations of Presidents Garfield and McKinley, the shooting of President Theodore Roosevelt, the nomination for President of Ulysses S. Grant, the election of President Cleveland, the passage of Women’s suffrage in Maine and other parts of the country, the destruction of the Battleship Maine (“War with Spain is imminent.”), the Spanish-American War, the (Chinese) Boxer Rebellion, political warfare between Secretary of State James W. Blaine and President Benjamin Harrison, President Cleveland sending federal troops to Chicago to protect the city during the Pullman strike and the sinking of the Titanic. His court cases included that of a retired sea captain who served in the Navy under Commodore Farragut. Hall writes about attending many lectures including one of Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, suffragette and author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic whom he describes as feeble in her 81st year. A wonderful narrative appears in his 1854 diary about traveling by stage and train, describing villages and towns.
Diary years are 1854 (2), 1855, 1856, 1859, 1867, 1868, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1883, 1884, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1912.
In 1876, Hall provides a wonderful, first hand report on the 1876 Presidential Election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes. Beginning on August 19, he writes of a “great Republican mass meeting…speeches by J.G. Blain (and others) of Illinois. Torch light procession & illumination.” He begins with reports on local election results: “By vote, 1711 in aggregate, Rockland [Maine] thus 333 Republican majority and carry Knox Co; 711 votes, a gain of 475 on last year…” He then provides us with a day by day record of the hotly contested presidential race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. The election through the nation into great turmoil as it tried to figure out who the next president would be.
On November 7 (election day), Hall states, “Presidential Election. Very stormy all day. Tonight no authentic return…but the Democrats claim to have elected [Samuel] Tilden. Up to 12 midnight not definitely settled but it looks…for Hayes.” On November 8, he writes that the election has been conceded to Tilden “but yet the D’s [Democrats] do not feel sure enough to celebrate.” The next day, “The thing is settled. Tilden is to be the next President…12 dispatches just coming from Mr. Blaine & others say Hayes is elected and just enough 185 electoral votes.” On November 10, “Both parties claim the election. Republicans claim it by 195 electoral votes…Dems claim all the states – Excitement running high.” Such was the mood of the country.
November 11: “All day conflicting dispatches as to result of election. Republican papers claim 185 votes, including Florida (4) and give up N.C. Troops are ordered to S.C., Louisiana to protect officials in counting the votes. Great excitement and reports of violence in Louisiana. Gov. Hayes announces that he thinks he is elected and so does Mr. Tilden. Everybody uneasy.
Hall attended a lecture of the famous humorist Robert J. Burdette of the Burlington Hawkeye. Burdette made a number of successful lecture tours, his most successful being “The Rise and Fall of the Mustache, which Hall mentions hearing. Hall then spent the evening with Burdette. “He told many very amusing stories in an unmistakable style.”
In the earlier part of Hall’s life (1854), he joined the Callopean Society, a literary and debating society founded at Yale College in 1819. “Became a member. Question resolved that the admission of new slave states into the union is opposed to the spirit and the letter of the [U.S.] Constitution.” Hall attended many temperance lectures at Tremont Temple in Boston and numerous temperance rallies, where the notable J.B. Gough (August 22, 1817-February 18, 1886) spoke. Gough was paid seventy-five cents to deliver his eloquent anti-liquor lectures. Later the same week, while in Boston, Hall went for a walk on the Boston Common and attended a temperance meeting at the Massachusetts State House, hearing speeches by “Messrs Taylor, Budnick, White and Buell.” In the back of the diary, Hall writes, “Eat not to dullness; Drink not at all.” Hall visited the famous Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA, and lists the various statues and graves he saw there, including that of Charles Turner Torrey (November 21, 1813 – May 9, 1846), a leading American abolitionist, who had been imprisoned and died only ten years early. Torrey pushed the abolitionist movement to more political and aggressive strategies, including setting up of a highly organized Underground Railroad. He personally freed about 400 slaves and was convicted of stealing slaves. He was sentenced to six years in the state penitentiary and died there on May 9, 1846. His body was taken to Boston and many people attended his funeral at the Tremont Temple.
Hall joined the Sons of Temperance (1855), paying a fifty-cent initiation fee. Hall established a chapter of the Band of Hope, a temperance organization founded for working class children in 1847, at the Universalist Church. In short order, the chapter had 186 members and temperance speaker Sinclair [possibly R.R. Sinclair] spoke to the group. At a follow up meeting, another 75 joined. At this point, the temperance movement had escalated. Hall writes, “Celebration of B of H…address by N. Butten. Procession to Lindsay Grove, 800 in it…” Hall’s early alliance with temperance would influence the stiff sentences he rendered as judge later in life to violators of liquor laws, sometimes adding hard labor to their jail sentences and fines.
In 1867, Hall states that he “commenced hearing recitations of Stephen Thacher twice a day.” Thatcher was listed in Hall’s 1867 diary as a member of the political ward list. [Thacher was a politically connected customs collector in eastern Maine during the antebellum period. His eldest daughter Mary married Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a member of the Secret Six, a group of wealthy men who helped to secretly fund John Brown’s famous raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry.]
Hall often mentions actions on various bills in the legislature. He also discusses legal cases, which he defended as an attorney before becoming a judge, including the trial of Eva E. Davis vs. E.W. Singleton in a bastardy case. “Gould (one of the attorneys) argued 2 hours & claims to us that he has the perfect defense & the best he has ever known in a bastardy suit. I began at 4:10 and closed at 5:21. Jury returned at 6:11…Were out about 5 minutes. Verdict for complainant.” He also provides insight into crimes. “Last night, Haines in lock up for burglary, struck and nearly killed his keeper, James Robbins, and made his escape.”
We also read of political events on the local level. “By tug “Hercules” – chowder party at Brimstone Island. Hon. Wm McKinley of Ohio, A.F. Crochett, T.R. Pillsbury…Col. Gilman… Speech by McKinley.”
On January 17, 1880: “Rep[resentatives] House & Senate met and elected Dan’l Davis Governor. Dem[ocrats] House & Senate meet this morning and act [on] funding. Thus the crisis appears to be past and the night triumphant.”
June 2: the votes taken at the Republican National Convention at Chicago. “Leading candidates for President: U.S. Grant – supposed strength 375, J.G. Blaine 300, John Sherman 57, Edmunds 10…H.M. Plaisted [nominated] for governor.” [In 1878, Plaisted left the Republicans over dissatisfaction with their monetary policy, and became a member of the Greenback Party. In 1880, he was elected governor as the fusion candidate of the Greenbacks and the Democrats. He served from 1881 to 1883.]
As the voting continued, Hall reports on June 7, “1st ballot at Chicago – Grant 304, Blaine 284, Sherman 93.” On June 8th: “James A. Garfield of Ohio nominated for President on the 36th ballot. Grant 311, Blaine 212, Garfield 397. This shows that about 240 votes were transferred from Blaine to G[arfield]”
July 2, 1881: “A clear & beautiful day – at 11 am, news of the assassination of President Garfield at Washington! No details. It must have been the work of a maniac – great anxiety for particulars – 3 pm Report that the President is shot in hip and not dangerous! Conflicting reports.” July 3: “Telegrams today say that the ball has been extracted from the President’s wound & every prospect of recovery. It will be miraculous if he survives.” July 4: “News from the President distressing. The ball has not been extracted and no hope of his recovery!” September 7: “President safely carried to Long Branch yesterday.” July 20th: “News of the long expected death of the President! He died last night at Long Branch.” July 26: “Garfield Memorial Exercises at Faneuil Hall [Boston]. Day very bright & hot at 85. Hall crowded. Exercises prayers, main address from 2 to 4”
On June 4, 1884, Hall reports the names of the eight leading candidates for president at the Republican National Convention in Chicago along with the votes they received, for the first, second and third votes including Blaine, Arthur, Edwards, Logan, Sherman. “4th ballot Blain nominated. Great demonstration of enthusiasm on the streets. Every band, rockets, guns, horns, bon fires & speeches.”
Later that month, Hall writes of finishing his anniversary address to be given in South Thomaston, Maine. “My topic is Church & State in New England.” [The topic of separation of church and state is one of the most important principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution.]
Hall provides extensive detail in 1884 about Neal Dow, the notable prohibition advocate who later ran for president on the Prohibition Party ticket. [Dow believed alcohol to be the source of many problems and sought to ban it through legislation.] Hall criticizes Dow for remarks he made at a lecture at Faneuil Hall in Boston. “Tonight, Gen. Neal Dow of Portland spoke upon the prohibitory question at Faneuil Hall and in the cause of his remarks accused me (a judge of Rockland) of inserting May instead of Shall in the resolution…to the Legislation as meaning the same thing. Of course, I could not suffer the interpretation to pass as unanswered as explained. Dow took back his remarks and afterwards expressed regret to me & to Gen. Tillson and assured us that he had not made the charge before and shall not again. It was, however, annoying and absolutely untrue, unjust and unfair. I had explained the matter to Dow at the time & he appeared satisfied with the explanation.”
In 1884, he writes of his political speaking schedule, the number of people in attendance and the lengths of time of his speeches. He mentions a number of notables in attendance. “Judge Williams, classmate of Gen. Hawley…present. Col. Smith spoke…Sen. H.W. Blair of N.H. just arrived. Meeting out of doors in a good place some 500 present. Senator B. complimented me highly by calling it ‘a grand speech, eloquent conclusion. He spoke 1 ¾ hours in a logical, clear & exhaustive view of the tariff question…”
Hall provides a nice report of the 1884 U.S. Presidential Election with the results coming in over the course of several days. “10 pm returns look decidedly unfavorable for Blaine. NY, NJ, Conn & Ind all reported for Cleveland. News looks a little better this morning. NY said to be for Blaine but close. 2 pm better & better – NY & NJ & Ind will vote for Blaine. 2:30 Blaine surely elected. Ten horns & bells & cheers ring for Blaine of the day! Virginia for Blaine! This I doubt. Every Democrat claims Cleveland is elected and are celebrating by yells & bonfires. Republicans do by a torchlight parade & cavalcade. The election is in doubt. Reports this morning look favorable for Blaine but Democrats are apparently confident. Telegrams from Democrats…in NY claim NY, Ind, Mich, Cal. Much excitement all day. Hopes alternating with dispatches from the two sides. Mr. Blaine is in constant receipt of assuming…congratulations. 8 pm, Democratic Headquarters noisy with singers and howls. Excitement with constant telegrams from NY and other places by both parties claiming election for each candidate. At 2 pm, it looks very much like a victory for Cleveland. Democrats getting ready to celebrate tonight. Mr. Rice telegraphs from NY, “Everybody here concedes Cleveland’s election…It is alarmingly close and dangerously uncertain.” On November 12, 1884, Hall writes, “Presidential election returns yet inconclusive…NY & National Republican Committee claim NY by about 450; claim it for Cleveland by about 700. The papers are positive and Dems are celebrating. They had the country as if this thing were settled for them beyond question…Democrats of Thomaston celebrated the election of Cleveland.”
In 1888, Hall has tipped in a newspaper clipping listing by state the popular vote for President in 1884. Once counted, the total popular vote was 10,067,610; total electoral votes were 401.
Hall travels from trial to trial as an attorney and records the results of many. He also gives quite a number of speeches with other politicians. Newspapers covered a number of his speeches and a few news clippings of the coverage are included.
Hall shares his experiences at political meetings. In 1890, while attending a meeting at which Henry Cabot Lodge spoke, Hall remarks, “Good day & good attendance. The Hon. Seth l. McMillian as M.C. was adversarial & was pleasant but too drunk to make a speech…This will cost us many votes.”
March 7, 1892: he spoke to Maine Governor Edwin C. Burleigh. “He claims to feel confident of carrying the district convention to be held at Waterville in June. He does not expect to carry Augusta but will make a fight for city committee men in wards 1, 2 & 3…The contest is brisk and bitter in this city…mainly caused by the [political] machines…At caucuses in Ward 2 last night, the Burleigh men made a contest on committee men & were defeated…The governor thinks he will get about 60 votes…Gov. Burleigh called – feels there was fraudulent voting in the canvass…I told him [I]…could not advise…Gov. B called, says [Maine state House of Representative] F.J. Goodridge of Waterville has been to see him to urge Judge Stewart’s reappointment. Governor told him that my appointment had lost him Waterville. This is absurd. Waterville has been down on B[urleigh] from the start…Election yesterday in Augusta. [Republican] Mayor [John W.] Chase re-elected by 236…”
June 5, 1892: “News of resignation of [James] Blaine as Secretary of State. This is evidently a declaration of war between B[laine] and the President [Benjamin Harrison]…National Republican Convention meets in Minneapolis today. The fight seems to be between friends of Harrison & Blaine, both claiming to have a majority of delegates. Blaine has left Washington for Bar Harbor.” On June 10, Hall writes about the first ballot at Minneapolis at 5 pm: Harrison 535 ¼; Blaine 182 1/6; McKinley 182; Reed 4…A most surprising result considering the Blaine talk and predictions.”
November 9: “Election returns look bad for Republicans…New York City with about 75,000.” On the next day, he writes, “Cleveland is elected. NY. Ind. Wisconsin and Conn…” On November 25, he writes, “The Democrats made [the] night hideous by the shrieks of steam whistles, the tooting of horns and clanging of bells over the victory of the 8th. Mr. Andrew Carnegie of Pennsylvania contributed $9,000 to the Lithgow Library Fund.”
January 17, 1893: “News of death of U.S. President R.B. Hayes – neuralgia of the heart.” Ten days later, he writes that “Mr. [James G.] Blaine died in Washington at 11 am today. His death has been expected at any time for over a month.” On January 31, he writes that he “attended with Hattie [his daughter] the Legislative Memorial proceedings for Mr. Blaine. Speeches by Llewelyn Powers…”
Hall attended a meeting of the K.U.H. & A.S. and heard an address by Dr. W. Scott Hile on the Abanoquils Indians of the Kennebunk Valley. He concludes that that were a very old tribe and that this valley was among the most ancient Indian settlement.”
Hall remarks tersely on July 6, 1894, that “U.S. troops sent to Chicago.” [President Grover Cleveland sent federal troops to Chicago to enforce a court ruling regarding the Pullman Strike. The strike was a milestone in American labor history as the widespread strike brought business to a standstill and Cleveland ordered federal troops to crush the strike. Dozens were killed in violent clashes.]
The women’s suffrage movement has historical advances in Maine. On March 8, 1895, Hall states that “Woman Municipal Suffrage bill passed the House yesterday by 25 majority…In the Senate by a vote of 24 to 2! Last session it passed the House and was tied in the Senate.” [Maine GOP leaders began to come around to the idea of enfranchising women as helping the party. When women were allowed to vote in school board elections in Boston in 1893, all of the members nominated Republicans. Research included]
On February 15, 1898: “Battle Ship Maine blown up in Havana at 9:46 pm.” [The Battle Ship Maine was sent to Havana Harbor to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban War of Independence. She was blown up and sank, killing three-quarters of her crew. A U.S. Navy board of inquiry ruled that the ship had been sunk by an external explosion from a mine. American newspapers, attempting to boost circulation in the era of yellow journalism, claimed the Spanish were responsible for the ship’s destruction. The cause of the explosion is still in dispute. While not an immediate cause of the Spanish-American War, the explosion helped to fuel American anger.] On March 14th, Hall writes, “War with Spain is imminent. Report of the Board of Inquiry into the Maine catastrophe not yet made, but the public believes it will show [the Maine] was torpedoed.” Later he continues, “Report of the Board of Inquiry into cause of blowing up the Maine made public. It was external but they do not fix [the cause]. Nobody doubts that it was with official knowledge of the Spaniards. Great excitement in the country & war preparations. President [McKinley] to send message to Congress…Week of negotiations fails to bring a peaceful solution…President’s Cuban message sent to Congress advising intervention to stop the war but not acknowledgement of independence of Cuba. House of Congress passes resolution for intervention to stop war in Cuba & ‘that a fine stable and independent government may be established.’ [Vote was] 322 to 19. Similar resolution in Senate went over until tomorrow…Senate passes resolution recognizing Cuban independence 67 to 21. Senate & House thus at loggerheads. The President is opposed to recognition but favors armed intervention ‘stop the war.’ House & Senate again to resolve for armed intervention without recognition of Cuban independence but declaring that ‘people of Cuban are and ought to be free & independent.’” On April 20: “President gives Spain notice to quiet Cuban by midnight of next Saturday…Spanish fleet starts from Cape Verde for the other side of Atlantic.” April 22: “The blockade of certain Cuban ports…Several Spanish vessels taken over Havana.” April 25: “Congress formally declares war with Spain.” May 1: “Report of Naval battle off the harbor of Manilla Philippines Victory for Commodore Dewey…”
July 3: “People despondent at report about the condition of Santiago…Better news…Report of the destination of Spanish fleet at Santiago fully confined. Admiral Pascual Cerveray among the prisoners. [Cerveray was a prominent Spanish officer.] Spanish fleet 4 armored cruisers & 2 torpedoed destroyers. The latter sunk by the Gloucester – a private yacht converted into a war ship.” July 18: “Santiago surrounded yesterday with 10,000 troops & Eastern Cuba in all arms 20,000 soldiers…August 15: “Peace declared. News from Admiral Dewey…Manilla captured on the 13th with 7,000 Spaniards.”
Hall reports that the Republican National Convention at St. Louis meets today [June 16, 1896]. “William McKinley of Ohio nominated on the first ballot – 641 [votes]. Thomas B. Reed received 84 ½ votes – much smaller vote then was generally expected. Garret Hobart of N.J. Vice President.” July 10: Democratic National Convention at Chicago nominated Wm J. Bryan of Nebraska for President on a free coinage platform with other Populistic principles. NY delegation did not vote. A part of the Maine delegation did not vote. The party seems badly split…” [Bryan’s plank was based on free silver. He blasted the Eastern moneyed classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker. His ‘Cross of Gold’ speech made him the sensational new face in the Democratic Party.] November 3: “Reports that Wm McKinley is elected over Wm Jennings Bryan…give McKinley 311 electoral votes, on Bryan’s 93, doubtful, 20…The Republican National Committee…claims that McKinley will have 277 electoral votes – necessary to a choice 223. Democrats still claim that Bryan will be found to have a majority.” November 6: “McKinley’s election conceded by Democratic National Committee.” November 9: “Republicans celebrate election of McKinley.”
February 6, 1899: “News of the Battle of Manilla between our army under Gen. Otis and the rebels under [Gen. Emilio] Aguinaldo. About 250 killed & wounded Americans and 500 killed, 1,000 wounded & 500 prisoners. The Spanish treaty vote – 61 to 29 or 3 more than 2/3 vote.”
Hall writes of many lectures he presented, some comical and other serious. Lectures were a frequent way of communicating in the 19th and 20th centuries. On April 10, 1900, less than 50 years after slavery was abolished, Hall wrote about delivering a lecture at the historical society entitled the “Anti-Slavery Conflict” in Kennebunk, Maine. [Many people don’t realize that slavery was prevalent in parts of New England. ]A newspaper clipping has been attached to his April 10th calendar reporting the lecture. “At its conclusion, Judge Hall on behalf of Judge H.K. Baker of Hallowell, presented to the society a history of the old town hall at Hallowell, which was the crib if not the cradle of the anti-slavery movement in Kennebec…a copy of Judge Baker’s Abolition paper returned to him with a picture of a gallows on the wrapper on which is hanging an Abolitionist, with the legend: ‘Help me, my dear black friend.’”
Hall reports on the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. He writes, “The slaughter of foreign ministers…the guards, missionaries and Christians in Peking, China confirmed. All nations aroused but impotent to deal with the [crisis]. The allied armies are being defeated…” Trouble had been brewing in China for years. Foreign exploitation had escalated and the partitioning of China into international zones seemed likely. [A group called the Boxers in China’s Northern provinces attacked and killed hundreds of Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries. U.S. forces joined with several other countries in mounting a China Relief Expedition to rescue foreign nationals. In 1901, China and 11 nations signed the Boxer Protocol ending the uprising.] [Research included].
On November 6, Hall reports that William McKinley has been re-elected as U.S. President.
November 30th: he writes about attending a lecture by Julia Ward Howe, known for advocating abolitionism, women’s suffrage and writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The lecture was held in the Congregational Church vestry and the title was “A Plea for Humor. Mrs. Howe…was introduced by O.D. Baker. She is in her 81st year and, although her voice is remarkably clear, she appeared…feeble. She read from MS [manuscript]. It occupied about 50 minutes.”
January 3, 1901, Hall writes of the death of Victoria, Queen of England “at 6:30 last evening, aged 81…She has been at the point of death from paralysis for several days. Albert Edward proclaimed King as Edward VII.”
He discusses at length and includes news clippings of the attempt to abolish Superior Court in Kennebec in an attempt to save money.
September 6, 1901: “At 5 pm, report comes that President McKinley was shot at 4 pm while holding a reception as guest at the Pan American Fair. But first fact received the President is alive at 7 pm. The assassin is a supposed anarchist. He was in the procession approaching the President to shake his hand & shot him twice.” September 7: “President’s condition critical but hopes are entertained of his recovery…” September 8: “Reports from the President’s surgery encouraging…and his recovery confidently predicted…” September 12th: “The President continues to improve, according to official reports from his surgeons.” September 13: “Alarming reports from Buffalo of President’s condition. At 6:30—Reports that President is dying.” September 14th: “President McKinley died at 2:15 this morning! It came as a terrible shock on account of assurances of his surgeons that he was recovering. The third sacrifice of a President of the United States [a reference to Presidents Lincoln and Garfield] to mistaken liberty in our laws which permit every kind of abuse and caricature and slander of officials—directly inspiring prejudice and contempt of our public officials and nursing the spirit of anarchy. Vice-President [Theodore] Roosevelt takes oath as President…outside court judge at Buffalo.”
Hall attended the Sons of The Revolution in 1903, a group that celebrates George Washington and the Revolution’s contribution. He included a news report of the major speech by Judge Charles F. Libby. “Shall we allow the billion dollar corporations to control us? The trusts are our own creation. That does not mean that we are going to allow them to strangle us…They will fall before the people like Goliath fell before David…The right of the individual…is in danger of being taken away by the tyranny and violence growing out of trade unions. It is time the strong arm of the law was used to suppress violence of this sort…”
Throughout his diaries, Hall provides details of legal cases, some handled as an attorney, others as the judge. He provides interesting insight on several controversial cases. In a divorce case involving John P. Dorr vs. Emma L. Dorr, Hall denied the divorce and later denied an appeal from John Dorr, who was a Christian Science practitioner, someone in the full time practice of providing healing through prayer. Dorr maintained that his wife had been cruel and abusive by spreading rumor about his moral character. He also claimed that his daughter gave false testimony. Hall is quoted in the newspaper as saying, “The facts proven as perjured testimony given at the former trial fully justify the petition for a new trial, but the hearing on the petition disclosed that the parties have cohabited since the former trial. For that reason, therefore, the prayer of the petitioner must be denied.”
Hall, who was avidly against the use of liquor, was known to sentence violators consistently. In 1903, the Kennebec Journal reported that “…Kennebec County is leading in the rigid enforcement of the prohibitory law. There are now 10 persistent offenders in the Augusta jail serving the sentences which Judge Hall has imposed. Only one is for less than 60 days and all have fines…” In later diaries, news clippings state that hard labor was also imposed.
While Hall could be very stern in dealing with users and sellers of liquor, he could also show mercy in sentencing. A news clipping contained in a 1907 diary speaks of the case of Zebard Hysom of Waterville, who was indicted for assault with the intent to kill his third wife with a dangerous weapon. Hall sentenced him to one year at hard labor in jail. He said there were several reasons for the lighter sentence, including his age, his otherwise good record and his service in the Civil War.
On September 29, 1906, we learn that “Secretary of War Taft proclaims himself provincial governor of Cuba.” [William Howard Taft initiated the Second Occupation of Cuba due to domestic unrest.]
June 18, 1908: “Wm H. Taft nominated for President at Chicago on 1st ballot…702 votes.” June 24: “Ex-President Cleveland died.”
November 27, 1908: “Drove with Jarvis to Wiley’s Corner…The object of the trip was to ascertain the conditions of the grave & grave stone of my great-grandfather Isaac Hall of Revolutionary War memory. I found it in good condition…the headstone of white marble…Capt. Isaac Hall died in 1815, aged 92 years.”
We later read in the Courier-Gazette of Judge Hall’s recollections of the history of State Guards who fought in the Civil War. In the lengthy article, Hall speaks of the emergency need that Maine was facing during the war and how State Guards met the need. The guards were comprised of regular citizens who acted in a vein similar to that of the Minute Men in 1776. Very interesting reading.
President Taft was in Bangor, Maine on July 23, 1910 and in Rockland on July 26. [Taft had made a 10-day journey down the Maine coast on the Presidential Yacht USS Mayflower. Taft avoided controversial topics, such as tariffs, during his trip. The Republicans faced tough challenges in the mid-term elections of 1910 and if Maine voted Democrats into office, it wouldn’t bode well for November for Taft’s re-election attempt in 1912.] Hall writes on November 9, 1910, “The Democratic landslide has happened! Mass., NY, Ohio have gone Democratic and the next National House will be of that stripe.” A news clipping of a luncheon held for Taft when he was in Bangor is included.
February 26, 1912: “T. Roosevelt settles the long awaited question of his candidacy for President by a statement that he will accept if nominated.”
April 16, 1912: “News of the Titanic, White Star Line – by collision with iceberg – 886 persons gone and some 1300 lost. The first voyage of the ship, the longest in the world, 66,000 tons.”
June 22: “Taft & Sherman nominated…” July 2: “Woodrow Wilson nominated at Democratic National Convention…”
October 15: “Col. Roosevelt shot in Milwaukee by Schrank…Said not too dangerously wounded.” [John Flammang Schrank was a Bavarian-born saloonkeeper of New York who attempted to assassinate former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee. Schrank was found to be legally insane. Roosevelt had left the presidency three and one-half years earlier and was running for President as a member of the Progressive Party. Schrank had been stalking him for weeks. The 50-page text of his campaign speech was folded over twice in Roosevelt’s breast pocket. That along with his metal glass case slowed the bullet, saving his life. Schrank was institutionalized until his death in 1943.]
October 31: “The death of Vice President James S. Sherman occurred last night from Bright’s Disease, complicating the presidential election for next Tuesday.” [Taft was re-elected and served without a vice president. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment didn’t pass until 1967 so the office of vice president wasn’t filled until the next election and inauguration.]
November 5: “The campaign has been intensely spirited & personal. The Republican Party split by the Progressive succession under Roosevelt. Taft’s chances are small as Roosevelt’s. Dems appear sure of election although both other parties are making sure predictions of success.”
November 6: “Women’s suffrage wins in Michigan, Kansas, Oregon & Arizona. It had the following states before: Wyoming 1869; Colorado 1893; Utah 1896; Idaho 1896; Washington 1910; California 1910, making 10 Women Suffrage States!” [The history of women’s suffrage is complicated. Many states offered women the right to vote in the 1700s but gradually rescinded the right. It would take more than 200 years before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified in 1920, providing women with the right to vote.]
Most of the diaries are in very good
condition with expected wear. A few are nearly blank and some have been used as
journals. The 1867, 1874, 1883 diaries have heavy damp stains and some loose
pages; mouse chews to top of 1894 diary with front cover missing and back cover
distressed; 1905 diary has some damp staining on the inside cover and heavy ink
bleeding through the first half. All in
all, a spectacular archive that takes the reader from the mid-nineteenth century
to the early twentieth century, providing insight into the life of a well
accomplished Maine jurist as well as many significant historic national and
international events. Diary years
include: 1854-56, 1859, 1867-68, 1872-76, 1878-81, 1883-84, 1888-96, 1890-1901,
1903, 1905-1910, 1912.
Everything we sell is guaranteed authentic forever to the original buyer. We also offer a 30-day return policy. If you discover a problem or are dissatisfied with an item, please contact us immediately. Our goal is to please every customer. We are pleased to be members of The Manuscript Society, Universal Autograph Collectors Club, The Ephemera Society, the Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers and the Preferred Autograph Dealers and Auction Houses. [P 200]