Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

James Hall

Illinois & Ohio

William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices 71-73 (Columbus: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860) [online text]:

JAMES HALL was born at Philadelphia, August nineteen, 1793. He relinquished law studies to join the army of 1812, and distinguished himself at the battle of Lundy's Lane, and the Siege of Fort Erie. At the close of the war, having been appointed an officer in the bomb vessel, which accompanied Decatur's squadron against the Algerines, he enjoyed a cruise in the Mediterranean. His vessel returned to the United States in 1815, and Mr. Hall was stationed at Newport, Rhode Island. He soon after resigned, and resumed the study of law at Pittsburgh.

In 1820 Mr. Hall began the practice of law at Shawneetown, Illinois. He then commenced a series of "Letters from the West," which were published in the Portfolio, at Philadelphia—edited by his brother, Harrison Hall—and were collected without his knowledge and published in a volume in England. Soon after he removed to Shawneetown, Mr. Hall edited the Illinois Gazette. He was appointed Circuit Attorney for a district comprising ten counties, and served four years, after which he was chosen Judge for the same circuit. When he had occupied it four years his office was abolished by a change in the judiciary system of the State. He was afterward for four years Treasurer of Illinois. Meantime he continued literary labors, editing the Illinois Intelligencer, writing letters for the Portfolio, and poems and sketches for Flint's Western Review at Cincinnati, signing himself ORLANDO.

In 1829 Mr. Hall compiled "The Western Souvenir, a Christmas and New Year's Gift." It was the first annual of the West. N. and G. Guilford, at Cincinnati, were the publishers. The Souvenir was a neatly printed 18 mo. volume, containing 324 pages. It had an engraved title-page, and was embellished with steel engravings of the Peasant Girl, views of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Frankfort, of a Shawanoe Warrior, and of an Island Scene of the Ohio. Its poetical contributors were James Hall, Otway Curry, Nathan Guilford, Nathaniel Wright, S. S. Boyd, Moses Brooks, John M. Harney, Harvey D. Little, Caleb Stark, Ephraim Robins, John B. Dillon, and Micah P. Flint. The writers of its prose were James Hall, Nathan Guilford, Morgan Neville, Timothy Flint, Louis R. Noble, John P. Foote and Benjamin Drake. It is now a rare book, and is valuable as a creditable illustration of early art and literature in the West.

In December, 1830, Mr. Hall started the Illinois Magazine, at Vandalia. It was a monthly octavo, of forty-eight pages, and was published two years. The editor was the chief writer for its pages. James H. Perkins, Salmon P. Chase, Anna Peyre Dinnies (Moina), and Otway Curry wrote occasionally. Mr. Hall having removed to Cincinnati, the Illinois Magazine was discontinued, and The Western Monthly there established. It was the same size of its predecessor, but had the assistance of a number of new writers, and was for several years prosperous. Mr. Hall conducted it till 1837, when he was succeeded by James Reese Fry, who was its editor until it was discontinued in 1838. James H. Perkins, William D. Gallagher, Charles A. Jones, Otway Curry, Morgan Neville, Hannah F. Gould, and John H. James were frequent contributors to the Monthly.

In 1836 Mr. Hall was elected Cashier of the Commercial Bank of Cincinnati. In 1853 he was chosen President of the same institution, a position he yet holds. His literary labors have been confined for ten or twelve years past to a revision of his works, and to occasional reviews of books for the Cincinnati Gazette and Cincinnati Times.

Hall was, according to one biographical profile, "an indefatigable writer of both prose and verse." ["James Hall," in Dictionary of American Biography (American Council of Learned Societys, 1928-1936)]

Note: When James Hall launched Illinois Monthly Magazine it was the first literary periodical to be published west of Ohio.[A Chronology of Illinois History]. The Illinois Monthly was published from 1830 to 1833 and was continued by Hall in Cincinnati under the title, Western Monthly Magazine.

Biographical Encyclopaedia of Ohio

James Hall
short biographical sketch


James Hall, Legends of the West (Philadelphia, 1832)(2nd ed., 1833)(New York: G.P. Putnam, 1853)(Cincinnati: H.W. Derby & Co., 1855)(Cincinnati: Applegate and Co., 1857) [online text]

________, The Soldier's Bride, and other Tales (Philadelphia: Key and Biddle, 1833)

________, The Harpe's Head, a Legend of Kentucky (Philadelphia: Key & Biddle, 1833) [online text]

Kentucky. A Tale ( London, Printed for A.K. Newman and Co., 2nd ed., 1845)

________, Sketches of History, Life, and Manners, in the West (Philadelphia: Harrison Hall, 1835)(2 vols.)

________, Tales of the Border (Philadelphia: H. Hall, 1835)

________, The Western Reader; a Series of Useful Lessons, Designed to Succeed Corey and Fairbank's Elementary Reader (Cincinnati, 1835)

________, Statistics of the West at the Close of 1836 (Cincinnati, 1836)

________, A Memoir of the Public Services of William Henry Harrison, of Ohio (Philadelphia: Key & Biddle, 1836) [online text]

________, The Philadelphia Book, or, Specimens of Metropolitan Literature (Philadelphia: Key & Biddle, 1836) [online text]

_________, Life of Thomas Posey, Major-General and Governor of Indiana (Boston: [s.n.], 1836)(1848)

Thomas L. Kenney and James Hall, History of the Indian tribes of North America, with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs. Embellished with one hundred and twenty portraits, from the Indian gallery in the Department of War, at Washington (London: J.M. Campbell, 1837)(Philadelphia: F.W. Greenough, 1838)(1844)(Philadelphia: D. Rice and J.G. Clarke; 1845)(3 vols.)

________, Notes on the Western States: Containing Descriptive Sketches of the soil, climate, resources and scenery (Philadelphia: H. Hall, 1838) [online text]

________, Memorial of Citizens of Cincinnati to the Congress of the United States, relative to navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (Cincinnati: l'Hommedieu & Co., 1843) [online text]

________, The Wilderness and the War Path (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1846)(New York: John Wiley, 1849) [online text]

_________, Anniversary Address before the Mercantile Library Association of Cincinnati (April, 1846)

_________, The West, Its Commerce and Navigation (Cincinnati: H.W. Derby, Morgan and Overend, 1848) [online text]

_________, Romance of Western History, or, Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the West (Cincinnati: Applegate & Co., 1857)


John Theodore Flanagan, James Hall, Literary Pioneer of the Ohio Valley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1941)

Randolph C Randall, James Hall, Spokesman of the New West (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964)

Bibliography: Article

James Hall, The Autobiography of James Hall, Western Literary Pioneer, 56 (3) Ohio State Archaeological & Historical Quarterly 295 (July 1947)

Research Resources

"Romances of Adventure"
in Carl Van Doren, The American Novel (1921)