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Hannibal Hamlin
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Hannibal Hamlin

Hannibal Hamlin (August 27, 1809July 4, 1891) was an American statesman, serving in the United States House of Representatives and Senate, as well as in the executive branch as the fifteenth Vice President during Abraham Lincoln's first term (1861-1865).

He was born in Paris Hill, a district of South Paris, in Oxford County, Maine on August 27, 1809; he attended the local schools and Hebron Academy.

He served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1836 to 1841 then two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1843-1847. He was elected to fill a Senate vacancy in 1848 and to a full term in 1851.

A Democrat, Hamlin supported the candidacy of Franklin Pierce in 1852. However, he broke with the party over pro-slavery Democratic policies, and on June 12, 1856, he left the party and joined the Republicans. This caused a national sensation.

That same year Hamlin was elected the first Republican governor of Maine, but served less than a month before returning to the Senate. He was chosen for the second place on the Republican ticket in 1860. His identification with Radical Republicans caused him to be dropped from the ticket in 1864 in favor of Andrew Johnson, who was a member of the Democratic Party and a Southerner.

He had two sons, Charles Hamlin and Cyrus Hamlin, who served in the Civil War. Charles and sister Sarah were present at Ford's Theater the night of Lincoln's assassination. His son Hannibal Emery Hamlin was Maine state attorney general from 1905 to 1908.

Hamlin served in the Senate from 1869 to 1881. His last post was minister to Spain, from 1881 to 1882.

He died in Bangor, Maine, on July 4, 1891 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.

There are biographies by his grandson Charles E. Hamlin (printed 1899, reprinted 1971) and H. D. Hunt (printed 1969).

This article incorporates facts obtained from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Preceded by:
John C. Breckinridge
Vice President of the United States
1861-1865
Succeeded by:
Andrew Johnson