Paul Hamilton (politician)

Paul Hamilton
3rd United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
May 15, 1809  January 1, 1813
Appointed by James Madison
Preceded by Robert Smith
Succeeded by William Jones
42nd Governor of South Carolina
In office
December 7, 1804 December 9, 1806
Lieutenant Thomas Sumter, Jr.
Preceded by James Burchill Richardson
Succeeded by Charles Pinckney
1st South Carolina Comptroller of Finance
In office
1799 1804
Governor Edward Rutledge
John Drayton
James Burchill Richardson
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Lee
Member of the South Carolina Senate from St. Bartholomew's Parish
In office
November 24, 1794 December 21, 1799
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from St. Paul's Parish
In office
January 1, 1787 January 5, 1789
Personal details
Born (1762-10-16)October 16, 1762
Saint Paul's Parish, South Carolina
Died June 30, 1816(1816-06-30) (aged 53)
Beaufort, South Carolina
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Wilkinson
Profession Politician, Farmer
Military service
Service/branch Continental Army
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War

Paul Hamilton (October 16, 1762 – June 30, 1816) was the 3rd United States Secretary of the Navy, from 1809 to 1813.

Paul Hamilton was born in Saint Paul's Parish, South Carolina, on October 16, 1762. He left school at the age of sixteen due to financial problems. During the American War of Independence he served actively in military roles in the southern states, fighting under General Francis Marion. He participated with Colonel William Harden in the capture of Fort Balfour.

Following the war, he was a planter and public figure. Hamilton served South Carolina in many public offices including state Representative (1787), State Senator (1794), Comptroller (1800), and the 42nd Governor (1804).

In 1809, President James Madison selected Hamilton to become the third Secretary of the Navy. His term in office included the first months of the War of 1812, during which time the small United States Navy achieved several remarkable victories over British warships. Hamilton was a proponent of military preparedness, especially sea fortifications. Although he wanted to strengthen the Navy, he found the Congress hostile and the President indifferent to his ideas. However, he was responsible for the Naval Hospitals Act of 1811. Secretary Hamilton resigned at the end of 1812 and returned to South Carolina, where he died in Beaufort on June 30, 1816.

Three Navy destroyers have been named USS Paul Hamilton in his honor along with the USS Hamilton (1809) and one Liberty ship named SS Paul Hamilton.


Political offices
Preceded by
James Burchill Richardson
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Charles Pinckney
Government offices
Preceded by
Robert Smith
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
William Jones
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