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Collection Title: Hamilton (Jones S.) Pamphlet

Collection Number: M306

Dates: 1887-1888

Volume: 3 Items

Provenance: Transferred from Mississippiana Vertical File, December 5, 1988. Other provenance unknown.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Jones S. Hamilton was born in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, on April 19, 1833, son of William and Eliza (Stewart) Hamilton. He was educated at Centenary College, Jackson, Louisiana, graduating in 1854 as valedictorian of his class. Hamilton then returned to Wilkinson County where he served as sheriff between 1854 and 1858. In 1856, he married his first wife, Caroline Augusta Stewart, and together the couple had at least two children, William S. and Maude. Caroline Hamilton died in 1861, before the outbreak of the American Civil War.

During the first year of the war, Hamilton served in company K of the 21st Mississippi Regiment. Later, he was appointed Adjutant General of Mississippi and was elected as a state senator in 1863. Returning to the war in 1864, Hamilton was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and served in Powers' Brigade, commanding a cavalry battalion. Following the war, he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, which became his permanent residence. He then served as a member of the Mississippi Peace Commission that traveled to Washington in 1865 to meet with President Andrew Johnson. Over the next few years, Hamilton continued to hold public office, serving as a war claims agent for the state of Mississippi throughout 1866, and later becoming deputy auditor. He was also a leading partner in a printing firm, Hamilton and Power Company, that was responsible for producing the Daily Clarion Ledger between 1865 and 1867. In addition, he served as state senator for Hinds County from 1884-1888; was among the founders of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad; and participated in developing steamboat operations on the Pearl River in 1879.

In 1877 Hamilton married Fannie Buck and the two had five children -- four boys and one girl. Records indicate the youngest son died in childhood.

The Hamilton family residence in Jackson was named "Belhaven" after the ancestral home in Scotland. Hamilton later donated the house, and it became Belhaven College. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Already a well-known figure in the Jackson area, Hamilton achieved statewide notoriety in 1887 following his arrest for the murder of Roderick Dhu Gambrell, a young newspaper editor. Hamilton was accused of murdering Gambrell on May 5, 1887, following an altercation between the two at a local railway station. Apparently, the two men held opposing views on the issue of using prison inmates for private labor. Gambrell had written several editorials criticizing the views of Hamilton and had stood against Hamilton in a local election. In the resulting duel between the two men, Gambrell was killed and Hamilton seriously wounded. The trial was delayed because of the injuries sustained by Hamilton, but eventually took place in Rankin County, Mississippi, in February, 1888. When the jury rendered a verdict of "not guilty" on April 9, 1888, Mississippi residents were jubilant. Many followers of the case viewed it as a travesty of justice, and felt that Hamilton should never have been brought to trial. Following his release from jail in April, 1888, Hamilton remained in Jackson, Mississippi, and continued his public duties until his death on January 20, 1907.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains two originals and one photocopy of a pamphlet printed in 1888 by Jones S. Hamilton following his acquittal for the murder of Roderick Gambrell. The nineteen-page document, entitled "Personal," is a collection of telegrams and letters received by Jones Hamilton congratulating him on his acquittal. Hamilton's intention, expressed in a letter at the beginning of the pamphlet, was to send a copy to each of his well-wishers. Correspondence in the pamphlet came from friends, family, business acquaintances, former officers and soldiers who had served with Hamilton during the Civil War, and also from strangers who merely wished to congratulate Hamilton on his freedom. The last three pages of the document contain reprints of newspaper articles that appeared in the Jackson Advertiser and the New Orleans States following the announcement of the verdict. Together, the correspondence and newspaper articles form an interesting account of the circumstances and characters involved in the trial.

This collection is of note to anyone interested in the history of Mississippi during the late nineteenth century, and also offers a curious and interesting insight into the life and personality of Jones S. Hamilton.

Related Collection:

Gulf and Ship Island Railroad Minute Book, M 284


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