Saturday, February 16, 2013

Was Thomas Hamer the "adopted son" of Thomas Morris?

After writing Celebrating Thomas Hamer, I decided to check Jonathan H. Earle's fine book Jacksonian Antislavery & the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854 to try to get more information on Thomas Morris's election to the Senate in 1833.  The book confirmed that the election was an intra-Democratic affair and that there apparently were other candidates (given the close vote), but did not identify who they were:

After an unsuccessful run for a congressional seat in 1832, Morris returned to his law practice.  The election was a boon for Ohio's other Democrats, however, who won control of the legislature on the coattails of [Andrew] Jackson's reelection.  With Morris temporarily out of public life, some of the state's political leaders decided to back him for the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat.  Not only had Morris been a loyal Jacksonian since 1824, but Ohio's political chieftans saw from his long legislative record that Morris would stand behind the administration in two important areas: the bank war and the nullification crisis.  He was sent to Washington to support the administration.


The state's legislators elected [Morris] to the Senate in 1832 by a vote of 54-49.

So maybe Morris and Thomas Hamer had been rivals for the Senate seat in 1832 after all.

But then I read this (emphasis added):

[A]fter some equivocation, Morris decided to support the Tennessean [Andrew Jackson for president in 1824].  At the time Morris was publishing the weekly Benefactor and Georgetown Advocate in Brown County, which was the most populous county in the 5th District and one of the fastest growing in the state.  In January 1824 Morris transferred ownership of the Benefactor to his adopted son Thomas Hamer, who quickly swung the paper into the Jackson camp.  The journal was known as one of Ohio's staunchest Jacksonian papers . . ..

Can it be that Hamer was in fact Morris's "adopted son"?  I can't find much, but it seems so.  Here's a blurb from an old geneology:

. . . The noted Gen. Thomas L. Hamer, in 1818, came to Bethel a poor, friendless boy, and found a home in the family of Thomas Morris, with whom he studied law . . ..

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