Philip Hamilton (lawyer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Philip Hamilton
Hamilton in 1880
Born(1802-06-02)June 2, 1802
DiedJuly 9, 1884(1884-07-09) (aged 82)
Burial placePoughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
SpouseRebecca McLane
Parent(s)Alexander Hamilton (father)
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (mother)
RelativesSee Hamilton family

Philip Hamilton (June 2, 1802 – July 9, 1884) was the youngest child of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, who was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was named in memory of his oldest brother, also Philip Hamilton.

Early life[edit]

Hamilton, known as "Little Phil" or as Philip Hamilton (the Second), born in New York City, was the youngest child of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.[1][2] The day of his birth in 1802 was June 2 by his son's account,[1]: 210  or June 1 according to his New York Herald obituary[2] and his gravestone.[3]

He was born the year after the death of his oldest brother, Philip Hamilton, after whom he was named. The older Philip, who was named for his grandfather Philip Schuyler, was killed in a duel with George Eacker on November 24, 1801.[1]

According to his son, psychiatrist Allan McLane Hamilton, the younger Philip "manifested much of his father's sweetness and happy disposition, and was always notably considerate of the feelings of others, and was punctilious to a fault in his obligations."[1]: 222  Due to his widowed mother's poverty after Alexander Hamilton's death in 1804, during his childhood Philip "was denied those advantages accorded to his elder brothers, and had, in every sense, to make his own way."[1]: 222 

Hamilton stood nearly six feet tall.[2] He had no college education but was able to enter the profession of law after studying with one of his brothers in New York.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Hamilton practiced law in New York, and served as an assistant United States Attorney during the 1830s under his older brother James Alexander Hamilton.[1] As a prosecutor, he achieved a notable success in his trial and conviction of the pirate Charles Gibbs.[1]: 218 [2] Gibbs was sentenced to death for the murder of a ship's captain and mate, and was hanged on April 22, 1831.[4]

In 1851, during the California Gold Rush, Hamilton moved to San Francisco to practice law as a partner of his wife's brother Robert Milligan McLane.[5] Hamilton returned to New York after one or two years.[5]

His legal practice was primarily in admiralty cases, with clients that included then-Commodore Silas H. Stringham.[5]: 16–18  At the end of the Civil War, Hamilton served as Judge Advocate of the Naval Retiring Board at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.[2][6] According to the New York Herald, he "led a quiet life" after 1865.[2]

Hamilton's son characterized his career as "a hard, up-hill professional life," with legal clients that included a "very great" number of the poor, especially sailors, and much of his time "given up to unselfish acts."[1]: 222 

Personal life[edit]

An abolitionist, Hamilton assisted the Underground Railroad in the escape of at least one slave by concealing the fugitive in his cellar until he could safely resume his travel to Canada.[5]: 18–19 

Photograph of Hamilton's sons, Allan and Louis, 1851

On December 29, 1842,[7] Hamilton married Rebecca McLane, who died on (1893-04-01)April 1, 1893, at the age of 80.[8]: 359  She was the daughter of Louis McLane (1786–1857), who was a member of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the 10th Secretary of the Treasury, the 12th Secretary of State, and a two-time U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom.[9] Her younger brother, Robert Milligan McLane (1815–1898), was a Governor of Maryland and served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, France, and China.[9]

Together, Philip and Rebecca had two sons:

Philip Hamilton died, "comparatively poor,"[1] on July 9, 1884, in Poughkeepsie, New York.[6]

Philip and Rebecca McLane Hamilton's home in Poughkeepsie, New York. Undated photo.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hamilton, Allan McLane (1910). The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 210–222 – via Internet Archive.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary, Philip Hamilton" (PDF). New York Herald. July 10, 1884. p. 10. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  3. ^ Philip Hamilton at Find a Grave.
  4. ^ Smith, Jonathan Kennon Thompson, ed. (May 13, 1831). "Death Notices and Other Gleanings from the Western Weekly Review 1831–1840". Franklin, Tennessee. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  5. ^ a b c d Hamilton, Allan McLane (1916). Recollections of an Alienist, Personal and Professional. New York: George H. Doran Company. p. 83. Archived from the original on 2010-08-03.
  6. ^ a b Johnson, Rossiter, ed. (1906). The Biographical Dictionary of America. Vol. 05. Boston: American Biographical Society. p. 67.
  7. ^ Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation, Volume 3. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1391.
  8. ^ a b c "In Memory of Captain Louis McLane Hamilton" (PDF). Chronicles of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Historical Society. 37: 355–359. 1959. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-05-23.
  9. ^ a b "McLANE, Louis - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  10. ^ National Park Service. "Louis M. Hamilton". Washita Memorial.

External links[edit]