Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hamilton, Andrew (governor)

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HAMILTON, Andrew, governor of New Jersey, b. in Scotland; d. probably in Burlington, N. J., 20 April, 1703. He was engaged in business as a merchant in Edinburgh, and was sent to East Jersey as a special agent for the proprietaries. Having discharged that mission satisfactorily, he was recommended as a man of intelligence and judgment to Lord Neil Campbell, who was sent to that province in 1686 as deputy-governor for two years. He was made a member of the council in consequence, and in March, 1687, became acting governor on the departure of Lord Neil for England, who was called there on business and did not return. In 1688, East and West Jersey having surrendered their patents, those provinces came under the control of Gov. Edmund Andros, and were annexed to New York and New England. Andros, then residing in Boston, visited New York and the Jerseys, continuing all officers in their places, and making but slight changes in the government. In consequence of the revolution of 1688 in England, Gov. Hamilton visited the mayor of New York as the representative of Andros, that official having been seized by the New-Englanders in April, 1689. He finally sailed for England, in order to consult with the proprietaries, but was captured by the French, and did not reach London until May, 1690. He was still residing there in March, 1692, when he was appointed governor of East Jersey, and also given charge of West Jersey. Although he administered the affairs of the province to the satisfaction of both the colonists and the proprietaries, he was deposed in 1697, “much against the inclination” of the latter, in obedience to an act of parliament which provided that “no other than a natural-born subject of England could serve in any public post of trust or profit.” Hamilton returned to England in 1698, but so great was the disorder and maladministration under his successor, Jeremiah Basse, that he was reappointed, 19 Aug., 1699. He could not, however, right the wrong that had been already done, or repair the abuses that had crept in. Officers were insulted in the discharge of their duties, and the growth of the province was seriously interfered with. In 1701 he was appointed by William Penn deputy-governor of Pennsylvania, the latter having been called to England to oppose the machinations of those who were plotting to deprive him of his American possessions. On Penn's arrival in London everything was done to harass him, factious opposition being made to the confirmation of Gov. Hamilton, who was wrongfully charged with having been engaged in illicit trade. The appointment finally received the royal sanction. In the session of the provincial assembly in Oct., 1702, the representatives of the territories refused to meet those of the province, claiming the privilege of separation under a new charter, and expressing their firm determination to remain apart. Hamilton strongly urged the advantages of union, and used all his influence to secure this result, but without effect. He also made preparations for the defence of the colony by organizing a military force. He died while on a visit to his family in New Jersey the year following. It was to Andrew Hamilton that the colonies were indebted for the first organization of a postal service, he having obtained a patent from the crown for the purpose in 1694. — His son, John, acting governor of New Jersey, d. in Perth Amboy, N. J.. in 1746. It is not known whether he was born in East Jersey or in Scotland. He is first heard of in public life as a member of Gov. Hunter's council in 1713. He retained his seat under Gov. Burnet, Gov. Montgomerie, and Gov. Cosby. In 1735 he was appointed associate judge of the provincial supreme court, but probably did not serve, as he became acting governor on the death of Gov. Cosby, only three weeks after the latter's accession to office, 31 March, 1736. He continued at the head of affairs until the summer of 1738, when Lewis Morris was appointed governor of New Jersey, “apart from New York.” Hamilton again became acting governor on the death of the latter in 1746, but he was then quite infirm and died a few months afterward. He is usually credited with having established the first colonial postal service, but the weight of authority seems to favor the belief that it was his father who obtained the patent.