James Hall was born on September 12, 1811, to James and Susanna Hall of Hingham, Massachusetts. His father was a weaver trained in England who was making a comfortable living. One day he opened his newspaper and noticed a “help wanted” ad posted by a textile mill in Massachusetts. The salary was far better than James Hall, Sr. could earn in England.
After some inquiry, Hall heard that land in America was more cheap and plentiful than land in England, which was, in most cases, held by the same families for generations. He also heard that food was plentiful and less expensive than England. Like so many other Europeans looking to improve their lives, Hall packed up his family and they departed for the United States.
In 1826, when son James Jr. was 15, he learned of a new school, the Rensselaer School (later Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI) just started at Troy, New York by the Patroon of Manor of Rensselaerswyck, Stephen Van Rensselaer III, and under the academic direction of Amos Eaton. This new school was a departure from conventional classical schools that Eaton called “a kind of literary bondage.” Eaton’s new plan was for a scientific school centered on the “useful arts” and “adapted to the native curiosity and ardor of youth.” [Read more…] about James Hall: New York’s First State Geologist & Paleontologist