William Hamilton was born in Philadelphia in 1771; served as a printer’s apprentice under Benjamin Franklin Bache; moved to Lancaster, 1794-95, and partnered with Henry Wilcox to publish the Lancaster Journal, a newspaper which Wilcox started. Hamilton purchased Wilcox’s share of the business, and became sole publisher of the Journal from June, 1796. In 1820, he sold his interest to Huss & Brenner. During the 1796 federal campaign, Hamilton alienated many of the Federalists who comprised much of the paper’s backing, by favoring the election of Thomas Jefferson for President. He nevertheless exploited the newspaper’s political appeal enough to win a Federalist seat in the state House of Representatives, 1810-1811; and a seat in the state Senate with the same ticket, 1812-1815. During the War of 1812, Hamilton was elected captain of a rifle company in Lancaster and marched with his comrades to Baltimore on the September 3, 1814.
He was elected treasurer of Lancaster County, 1816-1818, but ran into difficult financial times, having defaulted on about 20,000 of debt and leaving his security backers to return the debt and provide operating revenue at the same time. The incident humiliated Hamilton, who apparently ran into emotion/psychological problems, and retired to the county almshouse, where he died April 10, 1820, at age 49.