Paul Hamilton

12th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1804 to 1806

Date Born: October 16, 1762

Date Died: June 30, 1816

Place Born: St. Paul's Parish

Place Buried: Rhodes Platation near Beaufort, SC

Residence: Beaufort Co., SC

Occupation: Planter, Soldier (Militia)


South Carolina House of Representatives, 1787-1789 and 1806-1809

South Carolina Senate, 1794-1799

South Carolina Comptroller General, 1799-1804

South Carolina Governor, 1804-1806

US Secretary of the Navy, 1809-1812

As Secretary of the Navy, Paul Hamilton was instrumental in the creation of naval hospitals.

1995 – The last ship commissioned at the Charleston Navy Base, Aegis destroyer USS PAUL HAMILTON DDG-60, was named for Gov. Paul Hamilton.


Paul Hamilton was born on October 16, 1762, the son of Archibald Hamilton and Rebecca (Branford) Hamilton. As the only surviving son of his father, he inherited lands in St. Paul's Parish. However, his first planting venture was on Edisto Island, where he unsuccessfully experimented with indigo (c.1782). Turning to rice cultivation, he returned to St. Paul's Parish.

Born in St. Paul's Parish, South Carolina, Paul Hamilton had to leave school at a relatively young age for financial reasons. Hamilton married Mary Wilkinson on October 10, 1782, and they had six known children.

He fought in the South Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War, serving as a Private soldier under Col. William Harden in the Upper Granville County Regiment, and ultimately under Brig. Gen. Francis Marion after the Fall of Charlestown in May of 1780. He was with Col. William Harden at the taking of Ft. Balfour in 1781.

In addition to being an indigo and rice planter, he served as Tax Collector of St. Paul's Parish from 1785 to 1786 and as Justice of the Peace in 1786 and 1790.

In 1787, Paul Hamilton was elected to represent St. Paul's Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 7th General Assembly that met from 1787-1788

In 1789, he was a member of South Carolina's Federal Constitution Convention.

In 1794, Paul Hamilton was first elected to serve St. Bartholomew's Parish in the SC Senate of the:
- 11th General Assembly that met from 1794-1795
- 12th General Assembly that met from 1796-1797
- 13th General Assembly that met from 1798-1799

On December 21, 1799, he was elected as the South Carolina Comptroller General and had to give up his seat in the SC Senate. He was nationally recognized for his remarkable capacity for financial affairs and for systematizing the finances of South Carolina. This recognition helped to propel him to become the next governor of South Carolina, elected on December 10, 1804, and he served until December of 1806.

During Hamilton's single term as governor, the U.S. Congress proposed to place a tax on imported slaves but withdrew its proposal after the South Carolina legislature threatened to repeal its own law (enacted during the administration of Hamilton's gubernatorial predecessor-James Burchill Richardson) restricting the importation of male slaves over the age of fifteen.

In 1806, he was once again elected to represent St. Bartholomew's Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 17th General Assembly that met from 1806-1808

Since he was a sitting governor, his election was protested, but his term soon ended and he was re-elected and took his seat in this assembly.

In 1808, he was again elected to the House of Representatives of the:
- 18th General Assembly that met from 1808-1809

On March 7, 1809, President James Madison appointed him as the Secretary of the Navy, and he had to give up his seat in the SC House of Representatives. He served as SecNav until December of 1812.

Paul Hamilton died at his home in Beaufort on June 30, 1816, and he was buried in a private graveyard on Whale Branch Plantation.


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