Military Wiki
Arthur D. Hill
District Attorney of Suffolk County, Massachusetts

In office
February 24, 1909 – November 13, 1909
Preceded by John B. Moran
Succeeded by Joseph C. Pelletier
Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston

In office
Preceded by Alexander Whiteside
Succeeded by E. Mark Sullivan
Personal details
Born June 25, 1869
Died November 29, 1947 (aged 78)
Port Chester, New York
Political party Republican
Progressive Party (1912-1915)
Alma mater Harvard College
Harvard Law School
Occupation Attorney

Arthur Dehon Hill (June 25, 1869 – November 29, 1947) was an American lawyer who served as District Attorney of Suffolk County, Massachusetts and was a defense counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti.

Early life

Hill was born on June 25, 1869 in Paris while his parents, Adams Sherman Hill and Caroline Inches (Dehon) Hill were on vacation.[1] He grew up in Boston and attended Browne & Nichols School, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School. He began practicing law following his graduation in 1894.[2] In 1895 he married Henrietta Post McLean, the daughter of General Nathaniel McLean.[3] They had three children.[1]

Early legal career

Hill was a partner of the firm Hill, Barlow, Bangs & Homans.[4] In November 1904 he represented the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the "Tech riots".[2] In 1908 he was appointed receiver for the American Insurance Company.[5] Hill was also an active member of the bar association and specialized in disbarment proceedings against lawyers in Suffolk County.[4]

Political career

During the 1906 gubernatorial campaign, Hill frequently spoke against the Democratic nominee John B. Moran's record as district attorney.[4] He was the favorite for the Republican nomination for district attorney in 1907, but chose not to enter the race.[6] Moran died in 1909 and Governor Eben Sumner Draper appointed Hill to fill the vacancy.[7] He took office on February 24, 1909.[8] During his tenure as DA, Hill secured the convictions of a former president of the Boston Common Council (Leo F. McCullough), a former Boston Alderman (George H. Battis) and the former head of the city's supply department (Michael J. Mitchell).[9][10] He was defeated in the 1909 election by Democrat Joseph C. Pelletier.[11] Pelletier kept Hill on as a special counsel on the "Steel Cases", which involved alleged collusive bidding between the city's structural steel corporations.[12][13] The trial ended with an acquittal.[14] After leaving office, Hill served as a professor at Harvard Law School.[1]

In the 1912 United States, Hill backed Theodore Roosevelt over William Howard Taft.[15] He joined the Progressive Party and spoke frequently for its 1913 gubernatorial candidate, Charles Sumner Bird. Hill returned to the Republican party in 1915 to stump for gubernatorial nominee Samuel W. McCall.[16] In 1917, Hill was a candidate for at-large delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional convention, but lost to Charles F. Choate Jr. after a recount.[17]

During World War I, Hill served as a judge advocate general in the United States Army. He was commissioned as a major in December 1917 and served in France from January 1918 to June 1919, during which time he handled property damage claims made by French citizens against the U.S. Army.[1] He mustered out with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.[2] From 1919 to 1922, Hill was corporation counsel for the City of Boston.[1][18]

On June 1, 1923, Hill returned to the district attorney's office, this time as an assistant to Thomas C. O'Brien.[3] He was assigned a number of notable cases, including the blackmail case against William J. Corcoran and the banking law violation case against John H. H. McNamee of the Prudential Trust Company.[19] Hill never intended to be a permanent member of O'Brien's staff and left in 1924.[20]

Sacco and Vanzetti

In 1923, Hill served as counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti during their petitions for a new trial.[1][21] He successfully got Sacco declared insane and committed to Bridgewater State Hospital.[22]

In 1927, Hill returned to the case as chief defense counsel, replacing William G. Thompson and Herbert B. Ehrmann.[1] The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected all of the defense's pleas and efforts to have the case heard in federal court were unsuccessful.[23][24]

Later life

Hill spent his later years as a partner with the firm Hill, Barlow, Goodale, and Wiswall. He died on November 29, 1947 while visiting his daughter in Port Chester, New York.[25][26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Supreme Court May Get Sacco-Vanzetti Case". The Boston Daily Globe. August 5, 1927. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Arthur D. Hill As Orator". The Boston Daily Globe. February 4, 1908. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "O'Brien Names Hill Assistant". The Boston Daily Globe. June 1, 1923. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Richardson to Get Into Fight". The Boston Daily Globe. March 31, 1907. 
  5. "Hill Nominated". The Boston Daily Globe. February 18, 1909. 
  6. "Trusty Pen His Weapon". The Boston Daily Globe. April 2, 1907. 
  7. "To Name Hill for Moran's Place". The Boston Daily Globe. February 10, 1909. 
  8. "Dist Atty Hill Takes Office". The Boston Daily Globe. February 25, 1909. 
  9. "Battis Three Years, Two for McCullough". The Boston Daily Globe. June 4, 1909. 
  10. "Resigned to Their Fate". The Boston Daily Globe. July 11, 1909. 
  11. "Pelletier Not Over-Elated". The Boston Daily Globe. November 3, 1909. 
  12. "Hill to Finish Steel Cases". The Boston Daily Globe. November 13, 1909. 
  13. "Steel Trial Begins Sept 20". The Boston Daily Globe. July 16, 1909. 
  14. "The Boston Steel Fabricators Acquitted of Conspiracy". The Iron Age. December 16, 1909. Retrieved April 13, 2019. 
  15. "Harvard Men See Roosevelt". The Boston Daily Globe. January 27, 1912. 
  16. "Boston Lustily Greets McCall". The Boston Daily Globe. October 29, 1915. 
  17. "Choate Wins; Hill Loses by Recount". The Boston Daily Globe. May 17, 1917. 
  18. "Lieut Col Hill to Replace Whiteside". The Boston Daily Globe. July 23, 1919. 
  19. "Hill to Handle Noted Cases". The Boston Daily Globe. June 2, 1923. 
  20. "Five Resign From Dist Atty O'Brien's Staff". The Boston Daily Globe. June 2, 1924. 
  21. "Clears Judge Thayer in Sacco Trial Delay". The Boston Daily Globe. March 31, 1923. 
  22. Sibley, Frank P. (April 21, 1923). "Sacco Committed to Bridgewater". The Boston Daily Globe. 
  23. "State High Court Denies All Sacco-Vanzetti Pleas". The Boston Daily Globe. August 20, 1927. 
  24. "Seven-Year Battle in Courts Failure". The Boston Daily Globe. August 23, 1927. 
  25. "Arthur D. Hill: Prominent Lawyer and Ex-Harvard Professor". The Boston Daily Globe. November 30, 1947. 
  26. "Arthur Hill Dies; Lawyer in Boston". The New York Times. November 30, 1947. 

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