(1809 - 1891)
Hannibal Hamlin is best known in Maine history as the "Father of the Republican Party." Born in Paris Hill, Hamlin grew up on his parents' farm. He tried his hand at many careers before he came to law and politics; he was a cook, a woodcutter, a farmer, a teacher, a land surveyor, and a printer. Finally, he apprenticed as a law clerk under Samuel Fessenden, a leading lawyer and abolitionist in Portland. Hamlin worked alongside Fessenden's son, William Pitt Fessenden, who later became Senator, joining Hamlin in Washington. After his apprenticeship at Fessenden & Deblois, Hamlin set up his own law practice in Hampden. Soon, he entered politics as a Democrat: first as a member of the state legislature, then as Speaker, then as one of Maine's representatives to Congress, and later as a member of the U.S. Senate. While he was Senator, the Democratic Party was in turmoil, mostly over the issue of slavery. Hamlin, an anti- slavery man, chose to switch parties in 1856. In 1857, Hamlin began a term as governor of Maine, but resigned three weeks later to return to the Senate. Abraham Lincoln chose Hamlin as his running mate in 1860, and Hamlin served as Vice President under Lincoln for the first of his two terms. Hamlin was again elected to the Senate after his Vice Presidency, and served for twelve years. He lived out his last years in Bangor. Hamlin's leadership began an almost century-long period of Republican rule in Maine. Source: Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. VIII. Ed. Allen Johnson. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons. 1929. Image courtesy Maine Historical Society.