Daniel Hand was an American businessman. After the civil war he became known as a philanthropist, his first gift being a high-school building to his native town.
Daniel Hand was born on July 16, 1801, at East Guilford (now Madison), Connecticut, United States. He was a descendant of John Hand who came to Lynn, Massachusetts, from Maidstone, Kent, England, about 1635, and in 1649 became one of the patentees of East Hampton, Long Island. Daniel’s grandfather, Captain Daniel Hand, with his company of East Guilforders joined Washington’s army in the first Long Island campaign. The Captain’s only son, Daniel, was a farmer of some literary tastes and a life-long magistrate.
Daniel, brought up on the farm, was educated in the district school.
He went in his eighteenth year to Augusta, Georgia, under the care of his maternal uncle, Daniel Meigs, long a merchant in the South, and ultimately succeeded to his uncle’s business. A branch business established in Charleston, South Carolina, outgrew that in Augusta, and Hand’s large capital was transferred to the former city.
When war between North and South appeared imminent, Hand was in New York on business, but at the urgent request of his Charleston partner, George W. Williams, a Southerner, he decided to return. On his way back, obliged to take a roundabout route, he was arrested at New Orleans, but was paroled on his promise to report to the Confederate authorities at Richmond. Proceeding thither, he stopped over night at Augusta. There a mob gathered about the hotel threatening him as a ‘‘Lincoln spy. ” To save him from violence, the mayor and other old friends escorted him to the city jail for temporary safe-keeping. When he reached Richmond he was sent to Libby Prison; but, after examination, was released on parole within the Confederacy. He made his home at Asheville, North Carolina, until peace was declared, when he returned to Connecticut.
During the war it was proposed to confiscate Hand's fortune; but after prolonged legal struggle the Confederate courts at Charleston confirmed his right to his property. This he left in charge of his partner, allowing him almost unlimited time for making settlement. Final accounting and full payment were made some twenty years later.
In 1888 Hand executed a deed of trust to the American Missionary Association of New York, conveying securities aggregating over a million dollars, establishing Fund for Colored People. Up to that time this fund was the largest single gift made to a benevolent society in the United States by a donor during his lifetime.
Hand united with the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, serving as superintendent of its Sunday school for thirty years.
Hand was a vigorous personality, erect, alert, of wide reading, possessed of strong convictions which he unhesitatingly expressed.
In his youth Hand married his cousin Elizabeth Ward.