Andrew Jackson Hamilton

Andrew Jackson Hamilton was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on January 28, 1815. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1841. Six years later he moved to Fayette County, Texas, and in 1849 became state attorney general. He resided thereafter in Austin. In 1851-53 he served in the legislature and in 1859 was elected to Congress as an uncompromising Unionist, although speaking out for conciliation of the South. When other Texas representatives withdrew, Hamilton remained in his seat, returning to the state in March, 1861, to be again elected to the legislature as an opponent of secession. With the advent of war Hamilton came to be regarded as a traitor and in 1862 fled to Mexico and thence to Washington. Abraham Lincoln promptly appointed him a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from November 14, 1862, and military governor of Texas. Hamilton spent most of the balance of the war in New Orleans. A controversial figure in Washington, Hamilton was characterized by Gideon Welles as a "deceptive, vain, self-conceited partisan." His first appointment as brigadier general was not acted upon by the Senate and expired by law on March 4, 1863. However, Lincoln reappointed him to rank from September 18 and his appointment as governor was ratified by President Andrew Johnson in June, 1865, whereupon he resigned his military commission. The fourteen months of his provisional administration were characterized by tact, courage, efficiency, and moderation and in August, 1866, he was succeeded by a regularly elected set of officials. He then ascended the state supreme court bench, where his decisions reflected a conservative view; in 1868 he opposed the Reconstruction measure calling for disfranchisement of the Southern whites. This resulted in the conservatives' nominating him for governor in 1869, a race he lost. Hamilton's last appearance in the political arena came in 1873 when he sought to challenge the election of the Democrats, who had redeemed the state from the carpetbaggers, in the courts. Two years later, he died in Austin on April 11, 1875, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.