Businessman, son of reknowned Medford (Massachusetts) rum manufacturer Benjamin Hall (1731-1817), who "more than any other individual, brought Medford to its first great period of prosperity (1750-1800) and daringly led the small community through the perils of the Revolution," almost bankrupting himself in the process. Item #19390
Fascinating ALS, 2pp + integral address leaf, 8" X 9½", New York, NY, 1797 April 27. Addressed to his father, Benjamin Hall (1731-1817). Very good. Mild overall age toning (more to outer address panel). Intriguing letter regarding some unnamed "great discovery." Reads in part: "...it is thought a great discovery both there [Philadelphia] & here, I had an application for the right in some of the Western Counties in Virginia.... I have also had some applications here, but I have concluded not to dispose of any part of it until it is brought to perfection, the more I reflect on it the better I think of it...." Goes on to discuss difficulties with a Mr. Brasher, apparently an investor owing Hall five thousand dollars. "I suppose that Cash might be rais'd here from the patent but it must be by making a great sacrifice, the person who advancing would expect a certain proportion of the patent, which nothing but absolute necessity would induce me to do" -- and here Hall's ultimate sales pitch -- "I am willing to sell a proportion to you which shall be equal to your advances, & which shall be a very handsome profit... if you do not think the patent an object I will put security into your hands to the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars...." It seems likely that Fitch Hall was an early and enthusiastic capitalist promoting the steam engine of SAMUEL MOREY (1762-1843), the American inventor who constructed some of the earliest steam propelled ships and in 1795 was issued a patent for a steam engine. In 1797 Morey built a craft in New Jersey that placed a paddle wheel on each side of the boat. This boat was exhibited in Philadelphia, where Fitch Hall had just been visiting before writing his father ("I arriv'd here from Philadelphia on Saturday Evening," this letter opens). According to one source, "arrangements were made with certain capitalists for the construction and practical operation of large steamboats, but financial distress overtook those interested before they could execute their plans." Fitch Hall, it is our belief, was one of those very capitalists, and this letter represents a rare glimpse into one of the earliest fundraising efforts for Samuel Morey's steamboat. Most unusual and interesting.