HENRY HAMILTON Biography - Polititians


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Name: Henry Hamilton                                                                           
Born: 1734                                                                                     
Died: 29 September 1796                                                                         
Henry Hamilton (c.1734 – 29 September 1796) was an Irish-born official of the                 
British Empire. He was captured during the American Revolutionary War while                     
serving as the lieutenant governor at the British post of Fort Detroit.                         
Henry was probably born in Dublin, Ireland, a younger son of Henry Hamilton (1692–1743),     
an Irish Member of Parliament. He was raised in County Cork, then started his                   
military career when the French and Indian War, in the attack on Fortress                       
Louisbourg and the Battle of Quebec. With the support of Lieutenant Governor of                 
Canada Guy Carleton, Hamilton rose to the rank of brigade major. In 1775, he                   
sold his commission, leaving the British Army for a political career.                           
In 1775, Hamilton was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Superintendent of Indian               
Affairs at Fort Detroit, one of five newly created lieutenant governorships in                 
the recently expanded Province of Quebec. The American Revolutionary War was                   
already underway by the time Hamilton arrived at Detroit to assume his duties.                 
Hamilton was in a difficult position: as a civil official, Hamilton had few                     
regular troops at his command, and the natives of the region—French Canadians                 
and American Indians—were not all supporters of the British regime.                           
Hamilton became adept at diplomacy with American Indians, establishing good                     
relations with local Indian leaders. When the war began, British officials                     
initially determined not to enlist Indians as allies in the war effort, but in                 
1777 Hamilton received instructions to encourage Indian raids against the                       
American frontier settlements of Virginia and Pennsylvania. This was a                         
controversial policy because it was realised that civilian colonists would                     
inevitably be killed in these raids. Hamilton attempted to limit civilian                       
casualties by sending British officers and French-Canadian militia with the                     
American Indian war parties. Nevertheless, hundreds of settlers in Kentucky and                 
western Pennsylvania were killed and scalped by raiding parties during the war.                 
In Detroit, Hamilton paid bounties for prisoners and scalps brought in by the                   
Indians. He became hated by American settlers, who dubbed him the "Hair-buyer                   
In 1778, Virginia forces under Colonel George Rogers Clark captured several                     
undermanned British posts in the Illinois country, including Fort Sackville at                 
Vincennes. Hamilton set out from Detroit in late August to retake the post. By                 
the coming of winter he had succeeded. But in February 1779 Clark returned to                   
Vincennes in a surprise march, recapturing the outpost and taking Hamilton                     
Because of his support of the Indian raids, the Virginians regarded Hamilton as                 
a war criminal rather than a conventional prisoner of war. Clark sent Hamilton                 
to Williamsburg, Virginia, where he was jailed and often kept in irons by                       
Governor Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson finally granted Hamilton parole at the                     
instructions of General George Washington. In early 1781, Hamilton was exchanged               
and traveled to London.                                                                         
Hamilton returned to Canada in 1782, becoming Lieutenant-Governor, and later                   
Deputy-Governor at Quebec. He went on to be Governor of Bermuda (1786-1793) and                 
of Dominica (1795-1796). He married late in life to Elizabeth Lee, and their                   
only child was a daughter who died in 1871 without children. He died on the                     
island of Antigua in 1796, while still Governor of Dominica. Sackville Hamilton,               
his older brother, was a Privy Councillor and Chief Secretary for Ireland.