Andrew Jackson Hamilton was a prominent Texas politician during the nineteenth century. He was the State Attorney General and a member of the State Legislature before he was elected to US Congress in 1859. In 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed him Provisional Governor of Texas. He also served as an Associate Justice on the Texas Supreme Court from 1867-1869 and ran for Governor in 1866 and 1869; however, he was unsuccessful. He practiced law in Austin his entire life up until his death in 1875.
The provisional governorship appointment in 1865 was during the early years of Reconstruction following the Civil War. The Reconstruction Era refers both to the history of the nation in its entirety from 1865-1877, following the Civil War, and the Congress mandated and directed transformation of the Southern United States that had seceded during the Civil War. The Reconstruction Era of the Southern US refers to the years 1863-1877. Originally from Alabama, Hamilton moved with his family to Texas in the 1840s. Because he was an opponent to secession, Hamilton left Texas during the Civil War.
Hamilton attended law school in Alabama and moved to Texas in 1846 to be with his brother, Morgan. He opened a law practice in La Grange, Texas and moved to Austin three years later to begin his political career. Hamilton was acting as governor of the state when the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, was ratified by the nation. However, the state of Texas did not ratify the amendment until 1870. Following the rejection of his plans at the Constitutional Convention of 1866, Hamilton became against Johnson’s Reconstruction plans and subsequently spoke in favor of black suffrage. He also organized the Southern Loyalists’ Convention in Philadelphia at which he spoke out against President Johnson and joined the Radical Republicans.