Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HAMILTON, James, statesman, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 8 May, 1786; died at sea near the coast of Texas, 15 November, 1857. His father, Major James Hamilton, was a favorite aide of Washington. The son received a liberal education, and, adopting the legal profession, began practice in Charleston. He served in the war of 1812, on the Canadian frontier, as a major, but resumed his practice at Charleston, and was for several years mayor of that city. The formidable negro conspiracy in 1822, led by Denmark Vesey, was detected by his vigilance. He was often a member of the legislature, was a member of congress in 1822-'9, and an extreme advocate of free-trade, state rights, and direct taxation. He was an active supporter of Andrew Jackson, who, in 1828, offered him the portfolio of secretary of war, and the mission to Mexico, both of which he declined. He recommended armed resistance to the tariff act of 1828, and, while governor of South Carolina, in 1830-'2, advised the legislature to pass the nullification act, which placed the state in collision with the Federal government. He was appointed by Governor Hayne, his successor, to the command of the troops raised for the defence of the state under the nullification act. He subsequently removed to Texas, and took an active part in securing the recognition of that republic by Great Britain and France, where he acted as its representative in 1841, and was also instrumental in securing its admission into the Union. He was a United States senator-elect from Texas at the time of his death, which was the result of a collision between the steamships "Galveston" and "Opelousas," in the latter of which he was a passenger. Mr. Hamilton could have been saved had he not yielded his place to a lady among the passengers. He was one of the founders of the "Southern Quarterly Review," and of the Bank of Charleston, and took an active part in promoting railroad enterprises, and in the extension of southern commerce.
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