Thomas Hamer Day declared in Ohio

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By Wayne Gates

Brown County native Thomas Hamer is getting some statewide recognition.

On Wednesday August 22 at Chatfield College in St. Martin, State Representative Doug Green presented a resolution from the Ohio House of Representatives proclaiming “Thomas Hamer Day” statewide.

Chatfield Humanities Department Chairman Lonnie Griffith recently published a book on Hamer, which was noted by the legislature.

“I spent three and a half year writing a book on Hamer because nobody else had done it and he was completely lost to history,” Griffith said at the ceremony.

Hamer was the congressman that appointed U.S. Grant to West Point. Griffith said that Grant thought that Hamer would have been President of the United States in 1852 if he had lived.

“He was incredibly popular and had a reputation for being extremely fair. Even though he was a Democrat, he was very well respected when he was in the statehouse here and in Washington, D.C,” Griffith said.

Hamer never made it to the top of the ticket, however.

“He died December 2, 1846 in Mexico, outside the city of Monterrey. The traditional sources say he died of yellow fever, but when I was doing the research, I came across a couple of really old primary sources that said he died of dysentery. I think they said he died of yellow fever because it sounds better than dying of dysentery,” Griffith said.

Green read part of the resolution that honored Hamer, discussing his roots in Brown County as a lawyer in the 1820’s.

“While many would have been content with such an achievement, Thomas Hamer chose a life of service. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives where was named Speaker of the House. He then served in the 23rd and 24th United States Congress,” the resolution reads.

Green closed, saying “I’m grateful for the book and I was honored when we were able to get a resolution passed in the Ohio House of Representatives proclaiming August 8, 2018 as Thomas Hamer Day in the State of Ohio.”

Following the ceremony, Chatfield President John Tafaro reflected on Griffith and his hard work.

“Chatfield is very proud to have a published author on our faculty. He has worked very hard in our humanities department, which he’s in charge of. The students love him and he put his heart into everything he does,” Tafaro said.

Griffith said that he planned to start writing a second book on Hamer after discovering that much of his personal correspondence had been donated to a library in California by a Hamer descendant.

Griffith accepted the resolution on behalf of the U.S. Grant Historical Association and the Brown County Historical Society and said that it would hang on the wall of one of the U.S. Grant museums in Georgetown next to some Hamer artifacts.

The book, titled “Almost Famous, Thomas Lyon Hamer, the Congressman Who Made Ulysses Simpson Grant” is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Authorhouse, and on the Chatfield campus in St. Martin.

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