The following paper is the result of ten weeks of research on Jonathan Hamilton and the Piscataqua River network. The project originated as a study of the activity on the Salmon Falls River during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as a way to gain a better understanding of the history of Hamilton House. Over the ten weeks the project has evolved according to the nature of my discoveries, and it has concluded as a more in-depth study of Hamilton the man. Once I determined that Hamilton's center of business was actually down the river in Portsmouth, I shifted the focus of the project to concentrate on the various aspects of Hamilton's business, rather than just concentrate on what went on in the vicinity of the Hamilton House.
I have chosen to represent several aspects of Hamilton's life which I believe are most crucial to gain an understanding of the man. Each of the three major sections of the paper describes an aspect of Hamilton's daily life, or rather a role that he filled in society: merchant and ship owner, a community leader, and a well-connected businessman. Although these categories interconnect in many ways, they all describe separate but equally important aspects of Hamilton's career.
It has become clear through my research that Hamilton stood as a central figure not only in Berwick, where he lived, but also in Portsmouth, where he operated his business. The Piscataqua River served as the means of transportation between these two communities, but even more, it provided the commercial and social means for connection between both towns. The River, therefore, is crucial to the understanding of Hamilton's ease of movement between Portsmouth and Berwick.
This paper includes research to date; it is an open-ended project with an unlimited amount of material to be covered. Many questions still remain unanswered, and some may never be answered fully. The scarcity of materials on Hamilton himself necessitated the use of related information, perhaps not directly pertinent to Hamilton. I have formulated some theories based on this general evidence, and these may hold a personal bias. This paper represents my interpretation of the materials I consulted, but others may find that the same evidence described another sort of man than the one that I have portrayed. Hopefully, more research will be done on Jonathan Hamilton, to fill in the holes that I have left, and to provide further insights into his life.