Thomas Lyon Hamer Papers mssLH

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
November 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Business Number: (626) 405-2191


Finding aid last updated on October 10, 2022 by Melissa Haley.

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Thomas Lyon Hamer papers
Creator: Hamer, Thomas Lyon, 1800-1846
Identifier/Call Number: mssLH
Physical Description: 6.84 Linear Feet (10 boxes, 1 volume, 5 oversize folders)
Date (inclusive): 1825-1890
Date (bulk): 1829-1840
Abstract: A collection of material related to the personal and professional life of Thomas Lyon Hamer, American congressman and soldier.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Thomas Lyon Hamer papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts of Mrs. Mary E. Smith, October 1976 and February 1979.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Lyon Hamer (1800-1846) was an Ohio lawyer and congressman. In 1821, he was admitted to the bar, and started practice in Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio. In 1825, 1828, and 1829, he was a member of the Ohio state legislature, serving as speaker in 1829. In 1832, Hamer successfully ran for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives in the 23rd Congress as an independent Jacksonian, and later was re-elected to the 24th and 25th Congresses as a Democrat (1835 to 1839). In 1836, he stumped for the presidential candidate Martin Van Buren. In 1839, having declined re-election, Hamer retired from Congress, and concentrated on building up his legal practice. He continued to play an important role in state and national politics, and in 1844 campaigned for presidential candidate James K. Polk. In 1846, Hamer, a staunch supporter of the Mexican War, volunteered as a private, and the next day was promoted to brigadier general in the army. Hamer died of a fever outside Monterrey, Mexico on December 2, 1846. In March 1847, Congress passed a resolution of sorrow and presented his family with a presentation sword in honor of the life of Thomas Lyon Hamer.

Scope and Contents

A collection of 574 items from 1825 to 1890, which consists of the correspondence of Thomas Lyon Hamer, his political speeches and notes, and some papers relating to the Mexican War; Hamer's presentation sword and an oil portrait of him are included in the collection. The correspondence includes 240 letters by Hamer to his first wife Lydia Bruce Higgins Hamer (-1845), and family and friends, chiefly during his congressional service. The letters discuss family matters and Hamer's professional life and political career. There are also approximately 200 letters addressed to Hamer from his friends and colleagues, discussing his legal practice and business affairs, political views, and state and national politics. Correspondents include Lewis Cass, Thomas Corwin, James Hall, Robert Lucas, John McLean, Wilson Shannon, and others. Also included is Hamer's letter to President Andrew Jackson (February 17, 1837) discussing the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842.
Materials created by US presidents in this collection include James Buchanan autograph letter signed to Thomas Lyon Hamer, 1842 Janaury 20 (LH 30); Andrew Jackson autograph note signed to Thomas Lyon Hamer, 1837 January 11 (LH 73); James K. Polk autograph letter signed to Thomas Madison Hamer, 1847 May 14 (LH 147); James K. Polk appointment of Thomas Lyon Hamer as Brigadier General, 1846 July 2 (contemporary copy, LH 183); Martin Van Buren invitation to Thomas Lyon Hamer, approximately 1834 January (LH 184).

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1985. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy summary report. In 2022, Melissa Haley enhanced description of the presidential material present in the collection as part of the American Presidential Papers Project.


Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssLH 1-306.


Arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Lawyers -- Ohio
Legislators -- Ohio
Legislators -- United States
Mexican War, 1846-1848
Politicians -- Ohio
Ohio -- History -- 1787-1865
Ohio -- Politics and Government -- 1787-1865
United States -- History -- 1815-1861
United States -- Politics and Government -- 1815-1861
Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
Military records -- United States -- Mexican War, 1846-1848
Personal papers -- Ohio -- 19th century
Professional papers -- Ohio -- 19th century
Speeches -- United States -- 19th century
Buchanan, James, 1791-1868
Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866
Corwin, Thomas, 1794-1865
Hall, James, 1793-1868
Hamer, Lydia Bruce Higgins, -1845
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845
Lucas, Robert, 1781-1853
McLean, John, 1785-1861
Polk, James K. (James Knox), 1795-1849
Shannon, Wilson, 1802-1877
Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862
United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842)

Box 1, Folder 1-34


Box 2, Folder 1-29


Box 3, Folder 1-36


Box 4, Folder 1-34


Box 5, Folder 1-37


Box 6, Folder 1-30


Box 7, Folder 1-49


Box 8, Folder 1-24


Box 9, Folder 1-28


Box 10

Miscellaneous material

Scope and Contents

Box contains documents, business and personal correspondence, and printed material.
Volume 1

Lloyd Lewis. Captain Sam Grant

Folder 1

George McKay to Thomas L Hamer: indenture LH 300 1839 March 2

Folder 2

United States 29th Congress 2nd Session 1846: Resolutions giving thanks... LH 301 1846 December 7

Scope and Contents

Includes signature of James Buchanan.
Folder 3

Turnbull and McClellan. Battles of Mexico: Survey of the line of operations of the U. S. Army under command of Winfield Scott: printed LH 302 1847

Folder 4

W. T. Steiger. Diagram of the United States of America, Mexico, etc., showing proposed routes of the Pacific Railroad: printed map LH 303 1854

Folder 5

William H. Wharton and Sarah H. Wharton to George McKay: indenture LH 304 1837