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Hamilton, Andrew Jackson

Hamilton, Andrew Jackson

Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, 1815-75, American politician, b. Huntsville, Ala. Moving to Texas in 1846, he served (1849) as attorney general, was a member of the legislature (1851-53), and in 1859 was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. House of Representatives. He returned (1861) to the state legislature, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he fled (1862) to Washington. Abraham Lincoln appointed him a brigadier general of volunteers and military governor of Texas, and in June, 1865, he was made provisional governor by Andrew Johnson. Hamilton pressed for equal civil rights for whites and blacks, but the state constitutional convention (1866) rejected his program. As leader of the conservative Republicans, he ran (1869) unsuccessfully for governor.
This page is about a former politician; see Andrew Hamilton (disambiguation) for other meanings.

Andrew Jackson Hamilton (January 28, 1815 April 11, 1875) was a United States politician during the third quarter of the 19th century. He was a lawyer, state representative, Military governor of Texas, as well as governor of Texas during Reconstruction.

Early life

Hamilton was born in Huntsville, Alabama on January 28, 1815. His education began in Alabama where he went to law school and was eventually admitted to the bar in Talladega, Alabama. In order to join his older brother Morgan, Hamilton moved to Texas late in 1846 and opened his own law practice in La Grange, Texas. Three years later he left the city, moving to Austin, Texas to begin his political career.

Political career

In 1849 Hamilton was appointed as the acting state attorney general by Texas Governor Peter H. Bell.

In 1850 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives representing Travis County as a Democrat. He would only serve one term, leaving office in 1853. During this time he joined the "Opposition Clique", a faction of southern politicians in the Democratic Party who opposed secession and the reopening of the slave trade.

In 1858, Hamilton was elected to the United States House of Representatives as an Independent Democrat representing the western district of Texas. During this time he served on a House committee formed late in 1860 to solve the growing sectional feud between the North and South. He chose not to run for re-election in 1860 but won a special election on his return to Texas in 1861 to the State Senate. Hamilton was later forced to resign this post after threats to his life for his pro-Union statements. He fled to Mexico in July 1862.

During the American Civil War, Hamilton sided with the Union. During this time he went on a tour of the Northeast, giving speeches in New York, Boston, and other northern cities. He spoke out in favor of the Union and criticized the "slave power" of the South. Because of this Hamilton was regarded as a hero in the North, though he was generally viewed as a traitor at home. President Abraham Lincoln named Hamilton the Military Governor of Texas in late 1862. He spent most of the war serving in this position in New Orleans, after an attempt to capture South Texas failed in 1863.

Governor of Texas

At the end of the war, President Andrew Johnson named Hamilton as the provisional civilian governor of the state, an office Hamilton held for 14 months during the early stages of Reconstruction. As governor he ratified the Thirteenth Amendment and granted economic freedom to the newly freed slaves. He faced problems such as Indian incursions, general lawlessness, and chaotic finances from the aftermath of the Civil War. When his plans at the Constitutional Convention of 1866 were not enacted he rejected Johnson's plan for Reconstruction and aligned himself with the Radical Republicans. He spoke out in favor of black suffrage and in September 1866 organized the Southern Loyalists' Convention in Philadelphia where he criticized President Johnson. He resigned in 1867 and went to work as a bankruptcy judge in New Orleans. Later that year he accepted a position as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Hamilton tried to regain the governorship in the election of 1869, but was defeated by Edmund J. Davis.

Post-governorship

After leaving office, Hamilton switched to the regular Republican Party. He served on the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1868-69 and on the Republican National Executive Committee. He changed his views on black suffrage, now withdrawing his support for it. After losing the Gubernatorial election in 1869, Hamilton served as the leader of Tax-Payers' Convention in 1871.

Hamilton died in Austin, Texas on April 11, 1875 of tuberculosis. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

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