WILLARD P. HALL was born in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (West Virginia today) on May 9, 1820. His education was attained at a private school in Baltimore, and at Yale University, where he graduated in 1839. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1841, and then established his legal career, serving several years as the circuit attorney in Sparta, Missouri, and winning appointment as circuit attorney at St. Joseph. During the Mexican War, he first served as a private and then lieutenant of the 1st Missouri Cavalry. He also secured an appointment to draft a code of civil laws for the territory taken from Mexico. During the Civil War, he served as brigadier general of the Missouri militia, as well as commanding the northwestern Missouri district in 1863. Hall first entered politics in 1844, serving as a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1847 to 1853, was a member of the 1861 Missouri Convention, and served as the provisional lieutenant governor from 1861 to 1864. On January 31, 1864 Governor Hamilton Gamble died in office, and Hall, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, the war’s devastating effects on the state’s economy and industry were dealt with. After completing his term, Hall left office on January 2, 1865, and retired from political life. Governor Willard P. Hall passed away on November 2, 1882, and was buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.