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LATIMER, ALBERT HAMILTON

LATIMER, ALBERT HAMILTON (1800?–1877). Albert Hamilton Latimer, legislator and judge, the son of Jane (Hamilton) and James L. Latimer, was born in Huntingdon, Tennessee, on May 25, probably in 1800. He was first married to Elritta Smith in Tennessee on September 3, 1828; they had four children. His second wife, whom he married in Tennessee in 1833, was Elizabeth Richey; by that marriage he had eight children. After moving to Texas he married Mary Gattis of Mississippi, on September 21, 1857; seven children were born to them. Latimer was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1831, and, with numerous members of his father's family, arrived in the Pecan Point vicinity on the Red River on December 3, 1833. The area was claimed by the United States as a part of Arkansas until 1841, and most of the settlers who arrived before 1835 considered themselves citizens of Miller County, Arkansas; many, however, became involved in the Texas Revolution. Although not officially elected, Latimer was one of the five delegates from the region to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. From July to October 1836 he served with William Becknell's Red River Blues on the Lavaca River.

In 1834 the Latimers moved to a place northeast of the site of present Clarksville, where they and others founded the town of La Grange (later called Madras). Latimer represented Red River County in the lower house of the Fifth and Sixth congresses of the Republic of Texas from 1840 to 1842, was a delegate to the Convention of 1845, and was a member of the Senate of the Third Legislature in 1849–51. By 1860 he was a wealthy planter. For the census that year, he estimated the value of his real and personal property at $42,812.

With the approach of the secession crisis, Latimer was prominently and consistently identified with the Unionist cause. He was one of two men that Unionists in the legislature nominated in their unsuccessful attempt to block the ardent secessionist Louis T. Wigfall's election to the United States Senate. Because of his age, Latimer was able to remain in Texas during the war without jeopardizing his Unionist credentials. He was appointed state comptroller by Governor Andrew J. Hamilton in October 1865. He was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866, where he was a member of the Radical Union Caucus and its unsuccessful candidate for chairman of the convention. He served instead as chairman of the finance committee. After the convention, Latimer resigned his position as comptroller to accept a federal appointment as one of three direct-tax commissioners for the state of Texas and was given supervision of internal revenue collection in North Texas. In 1867 he was appointed supervisor of voter registration for North Texas. From April to August of that year he served as a subassistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau; he resigned the position to accept an appointment as associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

With the approach of the election of 1869, he was designated the candidate for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket, headed by Andrew J. Hamilton. When Edmund J. Davis was nominated by the Radical Republicans, thus splitting the party, the Grant administration decided to support Davis and gradually began to remove officials who supported Hamilton. In late September 1869 Latimer announced his resignation from the Supreme Court, to take effect on December 30. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, commanding the Department of Texas, accepted the resignation but made it effective on November 30. Latimer then announced that he would retire from the court immediately, but Reynolds ordered him to stay until the end of the session on November 30. The moderate Republican ticket was defeated by the Radical Republicans in the election. Despite Latimer's support of Hamilton, Governor Davis appointed him district judge of the Eighth District in 1870. He was confirmed by the legislature and served until his resignation in July 1872.

Latimer was a member of DeKalb Masonic Lodge, the Texas Veterans Association, and the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He died in Clarksville on January 27, 1877.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Billy D. Ledbetter, "The Election of Louis T. Wigfall," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 77 (October 1973). Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). James P. Newcomb, Report of the Secretary of State for the State of Texas for the Year 1872 (Austin: Newcomb, 1873). Charles W. Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1910; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

L. W. Kemp

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

L. W. Kemp, "LATIMER, ALBERT HAMILTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla44), accessed August 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.