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Hamilton was built around the site of Fort Hamilton (1791), which was named for Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804). In 1791, Hamilton was secretary of the treasury in President George Washington's cabinet. He had been an aid to General Washington during the American Revolution. Hamilton was platted by Israel Ludlow Dec. 19, 1894, and was first called Fairfield.

In 1803, Ohio became the 17th state and Hamilton was chosen the county seat of Butler County in March 1803, thanks to land donated by Ludlow. A post office was established Aug. 2, 1804, with John Reily as postmaster until 1832. The town soon became an agricultural trading center, thanks to its position on the east bank of the Great Miami River. The town was first incorporated in January 1810 by the Ohio General Assembly.

Hamilton was a port on the Miami-Erie Canal with completion of the Hamilton Basin in 1828.

Industrial growth accelerated in 1845 with the opening of the Hamilton Hydraulic that provided inexpensive waterpower for mills and shops, and in 1851 with the completion of the first railroad. In 1855, Rossville --a commercial center established in 1804 on the west side of the river -- merged with Hamilton. Civic leaders helped to organize, finance and build the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad, the area's first railroad. It began service thHamilton Basinrough Hamilton in September 1851. Former stations and stops now within the corporate limits include Lindenwald, South Hamilton, North Hamilton and Old River Junction on the CH&D (now CSX); Ixworth, Mosler and East Hamilton on the former Pennsylvania (now Norfolk Southern); Moore's Hill or Moore's Station, Rossville, Edgewood and Belt Junction on the Junction Railroad (now CSX line to Oxford); and the Fairgrounds on the Louisville, Cincinnati & Dayton (now abandoned). Between 1897 and 1939, Hamilton also was served by one interurban line from Dayton (along North B Street) and two from Cincinnati (via Glendale over what is no Ohio 4 and via Mount Healthy over U. S. 127). Also see entries for Boy's Town, Centerburg, Hometown and Little Chicago -- other names for Hamilton. Hamilton's manufacturing base continued to expand and diversify from the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) through World War II (1941-1945). More than 125 factories operated in the city during World War II, and industrial employment topped 20,000 as late as the Korean War (1950-1953). The city grew from 7,223 inhabitants in 1860 to a peak of 72,354 residents in 1960.

Its ever-changing products have ranged from farm machinery, steam and diesel engines, railroad equipment, horse-drawn carriages, military weapons, machine tools, castings, stoves and heaters, beer, whiskey, cigars and cake mixes to tractors, automobiles, aircraft parts, refining machinery, textiles, presses, safes and paper. When authorized in 1956, the interstate highway system was to link all cities with a population of 50,000 or more, a figure Hamilton had exceeded since 1930. But I-75 bypassed the city by 10 miles and Hamilton became the "largest city in the nation not on an interstate highway." The city was finally gained a connection to the interstate system Dec. 13, 1999, when the 11-mile extension of Ohio 129 opened. Hamilton's bicentennial in 1991 represented a change in direction for the city. The major project of the Hamilton Bicentennial Commission was the Fitton Center for the Creative Arts, completed in 1992. The emphasis on the arts continued Aug. 16, 2000, when Gov. Bob Taft recognized Hamilton as the state's City of Sculpture and commended the area's "dedication to preserving and promoting the arts." Hamilton! attracted international attention after city council officially added an exclamation mark to the name. The May 28, 1986, action said "that the City of Hamilton, Ohio, shall be hereafter known as the City of Hamilton! Ohio," replacing the traditional comma between the names of the city and state. "The reasons for the addition of the exclamation point are twofold," explained Jack Becker, city manager. "First as the dictionary definition indicates, it expresses strong emotion -- which reflects the high esteem in which residents and visitors alike hold our city. Second, it is a means of distinguishing Hamilton! from the many other worthy, but different Hamiltons throughout the world."

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