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STUART, HAMILTON

STUART, HAMILTON (1813–1894). Hamilton Stuart, publisher and editor, was born on September 4, 1813, near Louisville, Kentucky. He learned the printing trade in Georgetown, Kentucky, where he published and edited a local newspaper at the age of twenty-two. On November 23, 1837, he married the daughter of Col. B. S. Chambers, Beline Stuart Chambers. After his physician advised him to try a more favorable climate, Stuart traveled with his wife to Texas with letters of introduction to many prominent Texans. The couple arrived in Houston in January 1838 and met Sam Houston, with whom Stuart formed an alliance that lasted until Houston's death in 1863. Stuart soon became editor of the Houston National Banner but left after the newspaper's owners denied him complete authority over the contents. He joined an old friend from Kentucky, Levi Jones, and Robert A. Irion, secretary of state in Sam Houston's cabinet, to launch the Galveston Civilian on May 8, 1838. When Houston moved to Galveston that year for his health, Stuart followed and renamed his newspaper Civilian and Galveston City Gazette. The paper appeared weekly in its small four-column folio, printed on an old Ramage press at first, but after 1857, on the first steam-powered press in Texas. Stuart's editorials were closely read by Texans interested in Sam Houston, to whose ideas and personality Stuart was devoted. Since Galveston was the leading Texas city, Stuart's paper represented Texas to many people outside the state. Stuart attempted to present the state as favorably as possible, a fact that may account for his avoiding the feuds with rival editors that characterized many Texas newspapers of this era. Ideologically, Stuart was in the precarious position of opposing secession while defending slavery. After he was appointed customs collector, however, he reversed his position on slavery. He remained staunchly Democratic despite his opposition to secession; he refused to ally himself with Republicans, northern abolitionists, or Know-Nothings. After the Civil War he argued against black suffrage and the Reconstruction constitution of Texas. Stuart was mayor of Galveston from 1849 to 1852 and was appointed collector of customs by President James Buchanan, a position he held from 1853 to 1861, when Texas seceded. In 1865 he declined an appointment as mayor of Galveston from provisional governor Andrew J. Hamilton. Although production of the Civilian was suspended during the Civil War as a consequence of Stuart's ardent unionism, he revived the paper in 1865. Nine years later he sold his interest in the newspaper to join the editorial staff of his former rival, the Galveston News. He worked at the News until his death on November 16, 1894, eight years after the Civilian had been discontinued by its new owner. Stuart was buried in Galveston.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Ben C. Stuart, "Hamilton Stuart: Pioneer Editor," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21 (April 1918). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Randolph Lewis

Citation

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

Randolph Lewis, "STUART, HAMILTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fst81), accessed September 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.