Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association
Gregory, Mary E. C.
Hamilton, West A., Colonel
Hamilton, West A., Colonel
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Colonel West A. Hamilton Collection consists of a framed announcement regarding dedication and unveiling ceremonies of the Frederick Douglass Garden Apartments, which is on a portion of the original 14-acre estate that served as the last residence of Douglass and his second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, in Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, D.C., dated September 19, 1981. There is a handwritten note on the announcement addressed to Colonel West A. Hamilton in recognition of his service and in celebration of his 95th birthday, dated September 25, 1981.
Related archival collection: Col. West A. Hamilton papers, circa 1887-1991, which measures 4.4 linear feet, documents life and career of Col. West A. Hamilton. The collection is comprised of books, photographs, correspondence, awards, certificates, cards, diaries, ledgers, reports, magazines, yearbooks and minutes. Contact the Archivist for more information.
Colonel West A. Hamilton was born in 1866 to John A. Hamilton, a missionary and social worker, and Julia West Hamilton, a prominent club woman and activist in Washington, D. C. Hamilton committed his life to military and public services. He enlisted in the District of Columbia National Guard in 1905. On the Mexican border, Colonel Hamilton served with General John “Black Jack” Pershing during the 1916 Mexican Border Campaign. Hamilton served in both World Wars I and II and received several awards and decorations. It was during World War I that he commanded the 372nd Infantry and was awarded the Croix-de-Guerre “for his leadership and courage in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.” In World War II, he commanded the 366th Infantry in North Africa and Italy. Called a “soldier at heart,” Hamilton was honored at the White House in 1983 and received an honorary promotion of Brigadier General by the District of Columbia National Guards.
After his retirement in 1949, Colonel Hamilton focused his attention on helping others by actively participating in several civic and educational organizations in the District of Columbia. In 1951 he was appointed as a member of the D. C. Board of Education and participated in the formulation of policies to implement the desegregation of the public schools of D.C. During the 1960s, Hamilton was criticized by some African Americans for not doing enough during his tenure on the school board to assist blacks. Regardless, Hamilton was admired by many for his long military service and compassion for helping others through his community service.
Colonel Hamilton married twice but never had children. He died in 1985 just shy one year from his 100th birthday.
Col. West A. Hamilton papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of the Estate of Col. West A. Hamilton.
African American soldiers
Frederick Douglass Memorial Home
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum