Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BELL, Samuel, governor of New Hampshire, born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, 9 February 1770; died in Chester, New Hampshire, 23 December 1850. His family immigrated from Scotland to Ireland, whence his grandfather, John Bell, came to New Hampshire in 1722. Samuel worked on his father's farm when a boy, and then went to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1793. He studied law, and in 1796 was admitted to the bar, where he attained distinction. He was sent to the legislature in 1804, was twice re-elected, serving till 1808, and during his last two terms he was speaker. In 1807 he declined the office of attorney general, and sat in the state senate for a year. He was a member of the executive council in 1809, and from 1816 till 1819 judge of the state Supreme Court. He then served five successive terms as governor, from 1819 till 1823, and from 4 March 1823, till 3 March 1835, was a member of the United States senate. In 1835 he retired from public life to his farm in Chester, New Hampshire Governor Bell had five sons that became eminent.*His son, Samuel Dana, jurist, born in Francestown, New Hampshire, 9 October 1798; died in Manchester, New Hampshire, 31 July 1868. He was graduated at Harvard in 1816, read law with George Sullivan, of Exeter, and began practice in Meredith. He removed to Chester, New Hampshire, in 1820, ten years later to Concord, and in 1839 to Manchester, where he lived until his death. He was a member of the legislature about 1825, and for several years clerk of that body, was solicitor for Rockingham County from 1823 till 1828, and in 1830, 1842, and 1867 was one of the commissioners appointed to revise the state statutes. He was appointed justice of the superior court, and in 1855, on the reorganization of the court, chosen justice of the Supreme Court. In 1859 he was appointed chief justice of the same court, which office he resigned 1 August 1864. In 1861 he was the unsuccessful democratic candidate for congress, in the 2d New Hampshire district. He received the degree of LL.D. from Dartmouth College in 1854. He was one of the early members of the New Hampshire historical society, and the establishment of the Manchester public library was due, in a large measure, to his personal efforts. *Another son, John, a physician of great promise, was born 5 November 1800; died in La Fouche, La., 29 November 1830. He was graduated at Union in 1819, studied medicine in Boston and Paris, and received his diploma from Bowdoin in 1822. He was professor of anatomy at the University of Vermont, and editor of the "New York Medical and Surgical Journal."*Another son, James, senator, was born in Francestown, N. It., 13 November 1804; died in Laconia, New Hampshire, 26 May 1857. He was graduated at Bowdoin in 1822, and studied law with his brother, Samuel Dana Bell, and afterward at the Litchfield, Connecticut, law school. He was admitted to the bar in 1825, and began to practice at Gilmanton, New Hampshire, in 1831 he removed to Exeter, New Hampshire, and in 1846 represented that town in the legislature. In that same year he removed to Gilford, where he took charge of the enterprise of damming the outlets of Lake Winnipiseogee and other lakes, so that the large mills on the Merrimac might not suffer from a diminished water-supply during the dry season. By prudent management he gained over those property-owners whose interests seemed to be threatened, and the scheme was successful. He was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1850, and in 1854 and 1855 the unsuccessful Whig candidate for governor. In 1855 he was elected to the United States senate, where he served until his death.*Another son, Luther Vose, physician, born in Chester, New Hampshire, 20 December 1806; died in camp near Budd's Ferry, Maryland, 11 February 1862, was graduated at Bowdoin in 1823, and, after studying medicine with his elder brother John in New York City, received his diploma from Dartmouth in 1826. I[e began to practice in New York, but returned to New Hampshire after his brother's death in 1830. He became noted as a practitioner and writer, taking two Cambridge Boylston prizes by his essays before he was thirty years of age. One of his earlier operations, the amputation of the femur, was successfully performed, in default of any other accessible instruments, with the patient's razor, a tenonsaw, and a darning-needle for a tenaculum. Dr. Bell early became interested in the establishment of hospitals for the insane, and was elected twice to the legislature for the defense of his favorite plan. Although he was not successful, he brought himself into public notice, and in 1837 was chosen superintendent of the McLean insane asylum at Charlestown, Massachusetts. In 1845, at the request of the trustees of the Butler hospital for the insane, at Providence, Rhode Island, he visited Europe for the purpose of studying" recent improve-merits in lunatic asylums, and, after three months' absence, completed the plan of their present building. While at Charlestown, he brought to notice a form of disease peculiar to the insane, which is now known as "Bell's disease," and was also called upon frequently to testify in the courts as an expert. In 1850 he was a member of the state council, and in 1853 of the convention for revising the state constitution, hi 1852 he was nominated by the Whig s for congress, and in 1856 for governor of the state, but was defeated both times. In 1856 he resigned his place in Charlestown, and when the civil war began he entered the army as surgeon of the 11th Massachusetts volunteers. At the time of his death he was medical director of Hooker's division. Dr. Bell published "An Attempt to investigate some Obscure Doctrines in Relation to Small-Pox" (1830), and "External Exploration of Diseases" (1836), and also described his investigations of alleged spiritual manifestations.*Another son, Louis, soldier, was born in Chester, New Hampshire, in 1836 ; died near Fort Fisher, North Carolina, 16 January,1865. He was graduated at Brown in 1853, and began the practice of law at Farmington, New Hampshire In 1860 he was appointed solicitor for Stratford County In April 1861, he was offered the captaincy of a company of the 1st New Hampshire regiment of three months' men, and served his term of enlistment. Returning home, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th New Hampshire volunteers, and became colonel in March 1862. Colonel Bell was for some time a member of General Thomas W. Sherman's staff, and was inspector-general of the department of the south from November 1861, till March 1862. Prior to the Wilmington expedition he had been several times temporarily a brigade commander, and had participated in the engagements at Pocotaligo (21 October 1862) and Fort Wagner (July 1863). In the attack on Fort Fisher (15 January 1865), he commanded a brigade of General Ames's division, and was mortally wounded while leading his men in an assault upon one of the traverses of that work. He died on the day following the engagement.*Samuel Dana's son, Samuel Newell, lawyer, born in Chester, New Hampshire, 25 March 1829, was graduated at Dartmouth in 1847, was a member of the 42d and 44th congresses, and in 1874 was appointed by the governor and council chief justice of the superior court, but declined. He retired from practice in 1876.
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