Thomas L. Hamer

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Thomas Lyon Hamer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1839
Preceded byWilliam Russell
Succeeded byWilliam Doan
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the Brown County district
In office
December 5, 1825 – December 3, 1826
Preceded byGeorge Edwards
John Cochran
Succeeded byJohn Cochran
In office
December 1, 1828 – December 5, 1830
Serving with John Cochran
Preceded byJohn Cochran
George Edwards
Succeeded byJohn Cochran
Nathan Ellis
Personal details
BornJuly 1800 (1800-07)
Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedDecember 2, 1846(1846-12-02) (aged 46)
Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
Resting placeGeorgetown, Ohio
Political partyJacksonian Democrat
Spouse(s)Lydia Bruce Higgins (1822–1845, her death)
ProfessionLawyer, soldier

Thomas Lyon Hamer (July 1800 – December 2, 1846) was a United States Democratic congressman and soldier.

Hamer was born in July 1800 in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was a school teacher before being admitted to the bar in 1821. He was an Ohio Presidential elector in 1828 for Andrew Jackson.[1]

He practiced law in Georgetown, Ohio and was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1828, which body unanimously chose him as their Speaker in December 1829. As Speaker, he sought to maintain independence from party politics; although Jackson's supporters controlled a slight advantage over John Quincy Adams' supporters, he appointed Adams men as a majority in seven of the fifteen standing committees.[2]:344 When the Jackson caucus proposed enforcing party discipline during judicial elections, Hamer fought the proposal fiercely; envisioning a choice between the party candidate and the candidate he believed best qualified, he denounced a vote for the party candidate as perjury of his oath of office. These statements won him criticism from party stalwarts who deemed him unfaithful to the interests of his party.[2]:345

Following service in the House, Hamer was elected to the U.S. Congress. While serving as a congressman he nominated Hiram Ulysses Grant, the son of Jesse Root Grant, a constituent (the friend of his father-in-law), to be a cadet at West Point. Hamer incorrectly put on the nomination the name "Ulysses S. Grant" (assuming his middle name was his mother's maiden name of Simpson, the custom of the time) and the name stayed with the new cadet.[3]

When the Mexican–American War broke out Hamer volunteered as a private in the Ohio Volunteers, and was quickly commissioned as a major in June 1846. Popular and well respected, Hamer was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers on July 1, 1846. He was placed in command of the 1st Brigade of William O. Butler's Volunteer Division of the Army of Occupation. He led his brigade with distinction into the fighting at the battle of Monterrey. When General Butler fell wounded, Hamer assumed command of the division. When Mexican General Pedro de Ampudia requested to discuss surrender terms, it was Hamer who delivered the message to General Taylor. While still serving in the army he was elected to another term in Congress but died unexpectedly while stationed with the army at Monterrey on December 2, 1846. Upon Hamer's death, General Zachary Taylor exclaimed "I have lost the balance wheel of my volunteer army" and Lt. Ulysses S. Grant also lamented that the "U.S. has lost a future president." Grant later described him as "one of the ablest men Ohio ever produced."

He was buried in his hometown of Georgetown, a few miles from his namesake village of Hamersville.[4] Also named in his honor is Hamer Township in neighboring Highland County, Ohio.


  1. ^ Taylor 1899: 145
  2. ^ a b The History of Brown County, Ohio. Chicago: Beers, 1883.
  3. ^ Smith, Jean Edward (2001). Grant. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 24. ISBN 0-684-84927-5.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1902). The origin of certain place names in the United States, Volume 8, Issue 197. Govt. Print. Off. p. 128. Retrieved September 1, 2013.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Russell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
William Doan