The life of Hannibal Hamlin, Bangor resident and U.S. Vice President

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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We're getting closer to Maine's major milestone -Our 200th birthday this Sunday.

We are looking back at our history and the people who were part of it.

That includes a Maine-native and Bangor resident who would become the 15th Vice-President of the United States.

Richard Shaw, Bangor Historian, said, "He was a celebrity. "

Everyone knew the name Hannibal Hamlin before he died in Bangor 1891. Many still do. The attorney from Paris Hill was a part of American history and well-respected here in Maine and for good reason.

"He wore a swallow-tailed suit with a cigar."

Bangor Historian Richard Shaw can tell you many stories of Hamlin. He added, "He was a pioneer in the Republican Party because he was a former democrat of course and he was the first Republican Vice President. A decent man. Kind. Opposed slavery."

Hamlin ventured from where he was born in Paris Hill to Hampden to practice law. He'd eventually come to live in Bangor and got into politics.

'He was governor of Maine from only a month and a half and he said I don't really like this and he quit. It was a different time. He said I want the Senate.'

That led to being chosen to be Abraham Lincoln's running mate although they'd never met.

"A bit of serendipity that he was chosen to begin with. 1860 was a peace year and someone at the convention in Chicago said why not someone from Maine? He doesn't have any blemishes on his record."

That would end when Lincoln ran for re-election when they were looking for someone who would bring in southern votes.

"But he didn't go around saying he felt cheated out of being the president which could you imagine what this house would have been? It would have been the summer White House. It would have elevated Bangor even higher."

"He actually died with cards in hands. It was a beautiful morning and he was 81." He died at the Tarrantine. The original building was here but it was lost in a fire. it was on July 4th and a huge crowd came out when they heard he passed.

"There was a vigil outside for hours and there was such reverence for the man that a young boy set off a firecracker and he was thrown in jail if you can imagine that."

Hamlin was laid to rest in Mount Hope Cemetery surrounded by family. His grave is still well-visited to this day.