For a few years he did the Grand Tour of the Continent, becoming especially fond of Greece: he was later president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1812 to 1846. From 1813 to 1855 he was more or less continuously in politics, in Parliament, and first as a diplomat (for which he was made Viscount Gordon of Aberdeen), then chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1828, and foreign secretary from 1828 to 1830 and 1841 to 1846. As foreign secretary he was responsible for settling the boundary disputes between the USA and Canada. He was secretary of war and the colonies from 1834 to 1835. He was prime minister from 1852 to 1855, and was awarded the Order of the Garter in 1855, but his government resigned over the mishandling of the Crimean War. He also spent many years as a successful agriculturist and was a popular landowner of his Scottish estates. He added the name Hamilton in 1818, after marrying his second wife.
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