Alexander Hamilton (doctor)

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Dr Alexander Hamilton (26 September 1712 - 11 May 1756) was a Scottish born doctor and writer from eighteenth century colonial Maryland.

Early life[edit]

Hamilton was born in or near Edinburgh. His father was Dr. William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity and Principal of the University of Edinburgh. He was raised and educated as a member of the Scottish Gentry.[1]

Career[edit]

Hamilton is best known for his travel journal, Itinerareum, recording his journey in 1744 from Annapolis in Maryland to York in Maine. This work is seen as the best single portrait of men and manners, of rural and urban life, of the wide range of society and scenery in colonial America and extracts from his journal are regularly used in academic studies of colonial society and culture.[2] Richard Bushman, for example, uses a famous incident of Hamilton observing and critiquing a fellow travellers behaviour in an inn in order to demonstrate ideas surrounding gentility in colonial America.[3]

Hamilton is renowned for his engaging and humorous writing style, regularly describing candidly his encounters with those he believed to be his social inferiors. His use of humour in these situations was a device common amongst the gentry of the time for describing impertinent, ill judged manners.[4]

Later life[edit]

In later life Hamilton continued to build up his medical practise in Maryland whilst broadening the scope of his writing to include articles for the Maryland Gazette and the satirical, History of the Ancient and Noble Tuesday Club the finest humorous work of colonial America.[5]

He married Miss Margaret Dulany (Daughter of Daniel Dulany) in May 1747, thereby joining one of Maryland's most powerful families. As a result of this new found social influence Hamilton successfully ran for a seat on the Annapolis Assembly, occupying it from 1753-54.

Hamilton died on May 11, 1756, childless, leaving all his possessions to his widow Margaret Dulany Hamilton. Upon his death, a friend wrote in the Maryland Gazette The death of this valuable and worthy gentleman is justly lamented...No man in his sphere, has left fewer enemies or more friends.[1]

Influence[edit]

Hamilton represents a typical member of the pre-revolution, colonial American gentry, "a paradigm of eighteenth century urbanity, sophistication and wit", and as such his Itinerareum is now seen as a very valuable tool for the study of Eighteenth century colonial history.[6]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Carl Bridenbaugh (ed.), Gentleman's Progress The Itinerarium of Dr Alexander Hamilton (Pittsburgh and London, 1948).
  • Richard Bushman, Bodies and Minds from Bushman, The Refinement of America: persons, houses, cities (New York, 1993).
  • Robert Micklus, The Delightful Instruction of Dr Alexander Hamilton's Itinerarium, American Literature (60, 1988).
  • Geoffery Needler, Linguistic Evidence from Alexander Hamilton's Itinerareum, American Speech (42, 1997).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bridenbaugh, 1948.
  2. ^ "Robert Micklus, The Delightful Instruction of Dr Alexander Hamilton's Itinerarium, American Literature (60, 1988), p. 359."
  3. ^ "Richard Bushman, 'Bodies and Minds' from Bushman, The Refinement of America: persons, houses, cities (New York, 1993)."
  4. ^ "Geoffery Needler, 'Linguistic Evidence from Alexander Hamilton's Itinerareum', American Speech (42, 1997)."
  5. ^ Lemay, J.A. Leo (1972). Men of Letters in Colonial Maryland. Knoxville. p. 213. 
  6. ^ "Needler, 'Linguistic Evidence'."