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Jones Stewart Hamilton
Jones S. Hamilton.jpg
Mississippi State Senator
In office
1884–1888
Personal details
Born (1833-04-19)April 19, 1833
Wilkinson County, Mississippi, U.S.
Died January 21, 1907(1907-01-21) (aged 73)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Caroline Augusta Stewart
Fannie Buck
Children 5 sons, 2 daughters
Parents William Hamilton
Eliza Stewart
Residence Belhaven
Alma mater Centenary College of Louisiana at Jackson
Occupation Businessman
Military career
Allegiance  Confederate States of America (1861–1865)
Service/branch  Confederate States of America Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Confederate States of America Lieutenant Colonel.png Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Mississippi Power's Mississippi Cavalry

Jones Stewart Hamilton (April 19, 1833 – January 21, 1907) was an American sheriff, state senator, businessman and Confederate veteran who became a millionaire through investments in railroads run by convicts he leased after the war. His mansion is the namesake of Belhaven University.

Early life

Jones S. Hamilton was born on April 19, 1833 in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. His parents were William Hamilton and Eliza Stewart, and he was of Scottish descent. He graduated from Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana.

Career

Hamilton began his career as the sheriff of Wilkinson County from 1854 to 1858. He served in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Hamilton made money through convict leasing after the war. According to the Arkansas Gazette, "As lessee of state penitentiary for years he was identified with many public works." He "owned the Jackson gas works, a race track, and a number of hotels." He was also a publisher of The Clarion Ledger in 1865–1867, and a co-founder of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad in the early 1880s. He became a millionaire through his investments in railroads, which were run by the convicts he leased. As a result, he has been described as a "southern-style robber baron."

Hamilton was criticized for his use of convict leasing by Roderick Gambrell, a newspaper editor. On May 5, 1887, the two men fought it out in a duel by gunfire, leading to Gambrell's death. Even though duels were illegal in Mississippi, Hamilton was declared "not guilty" on April 9, 1888.

Hamilton served as a member of the Mississippi State Senate, representing Hinds County from 1884 to 1888.

Personal life, death and legacy

Hamilton married Caroline Augusta Stewart in 1856 and they had a son and a daughter. His wife died in 1861. He married his second wife, Fannie Buck, in 1877; they had four sons and a daughter.

Hamilton died on January 21, 1907 in Jackson, Mississippi. He donated his Jackson mansion, Belhaven, to Belhaven College (now known as Belhaven University); the mansion burnt down in 1895 but the university retains its name. By extension, it is also the namesake of the Belhaven Neighborhood where it was located.

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