A Guide to the James Hamilton Papers, 1839-1844
James Hamilton (1786–1857) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where he practiced law and served for several years as mayor. He then served as a member of Congress, 1822-1829, and was elected governor of South Carolina in 1830.
Although Hamilton still lived in South Carolina, he supported Texas independence and was offered command of the Texas army in late 1836, which he declined. President Mirabeau B. Lamar later appointed him loan commissioner, as the Republic of Texas was in a financially strapped situation. Hamilton borrowed over $400,000 from the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia and then turned to Europe.
Hamilton worked toward diplomatic recognition by European powers and peace with Mexico, which he believed would help bring strong international relations and therefore success to Texas. He worked with the Texas minister to France, J. Pinckney Henderson, in negotiating a commercial treaty and loan. The effort was about to pay off with a $5 million loan when the French government withdrew from the deal. Hamilton, having had no luck with Great Britain or Holland, turned to Belgium and came back to Texas to work on an agreement with the nation, but upon his arrival found that Lamar was no longer president. Instead, Sam Houston was in office, and he had rescinded all laws pertaining to the European loan, and terminated Hamilton's position, leaving him owed money he was unable to collect.
Hamilton returned to South Carolina in March of 1842, and then went back to Texas in 1855. He was on his way to Washington, in 1857, when he heard that Texas was going to settle on the funds he was owed. Hamilton died en route back to Texas when his ship wrecked in the Gulf of Mexico.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "James Hamilton," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/HH/fha35.html (accessed May 19, 2010).
The James Hamilton Papers, 1839-1844, include letters and negotiations concerning James Hamilton’s activities as a diplomatic commissioner for the Republic of Texas, specifically relating to his mission to The Hague and negotiations with Baron Verstolk van Soelen, Netherland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to secure diplomatic recognition for the Republic and to conclude a commercial treaty. The papers also include manuscript translations of two letters. The first, to the editor of the Charleston Mercy and reprinted in the Charleston Courier regards Mexican invasions of 1842 and opposing United States annexation of Texas; and the second replies to Hamilton’s letter, addressed to the editor of the Courier. . Furthermore, the papers contain a letter to the people of Texas, giving a detailed account of financial negotiations with various foreign powers made by the Republic between 1836 and 1842.
The collection is open for research.
James Hamilton Papers, 1839-1844, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers