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Biography of Dr. Silas Hamilton

Hamilton, Dr. Silas - In 1830, Dr. Hamilton having decided to give up his Mississippi experiment and remove to the north where social life and conditions were more congenial, went to the home of his nephew, Thomas M. Hamilton, (grandfather of the writer),who, with his parents, had removed from Vermont to the Territory of Ohio, with the "Ohio Company" in 1792, and settled upon the Muskingum River and remained there until the winter of 1817-1818, when he built a flatboat and loaded his family and effects thereon, and went thence down the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers to Cairo and up the Mississippi River to Kaskaskia, then the capital of Illinois Territory, and settled in New Design, in St.Clair County, a neighbor to the noted Rev. James Lemen, who became their intimate friend and pastor, and for whom he voted as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, which formed the constitution under which the state was admitted into the Union. Mr. Lemen was elected as a delegate and after the state was admitted he was elected to the first and to several succeeding sessions of the Legislature, and by reason of his great ability and wide aquaintance with the leading men in public life in the new state, he exerted a powerful influence in securing the exclusion of slavery, under the constitution, and in the legislature subsequent to its adoption. The contests over the question of the rights of master and slave, in the new state were long and bitter, and the parties were very evenly divided, but Mr. Lemen was always found fighting for freedom. At the time of the adoption of the constitution there were a great many slaves held in the state, and the courts afterwards held that the constitution and statutes were not retroactive and that masters owning slaves at the time of the adoption of the constitution could hold them and their children during their lives.

Dr. Hamilton returned to Mississippi and closed up his farming operations and prepared to remove to his new location in Illinois. He took his twenty-eight slaves to Cincinnati and manumitted them, being required to give bond that none of them should become a public charge. He brought George and a man and his wife, of his former slaves, with him to his new home. The man for work on the farm, and his wife for housekeeper, he being a widower, and his family consisting of himself and one son. His intentions then was to educate George and send him to Liberia, as a missionary to his own race. This plan was frustrated, however, by reason of the death of Dr. Silas Hamilton, November 19, 1834, his son having died previously. In his will, dated October 20, 1834, there is the following provision.

"Beleiving in the very great importance of primary schools, and desiring that my friends and relations in this neighborhood should receive the benefit of them, I give and bequeath four thousand dollars for the establishment of a primary school, viz: two-thousand dollars to be appropriated to the erection of a building suitable for a school and for a place of public worship, and two thousand dollars to constitute a fund for the support of a teacher"..... " and I desire my executors to oversee the erection of said building."

Source: Unknown