Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hannibal Hamlin: Lincoln's un-famous first VP

Is that a neatly-trimmed chinbeard I see under there?

So, America's fifteenth Vice President was not really that interesting. He had a long and successful career as a public servant, was a teetotaler (BO-RING), and managed to not really make much of a mark in public school history textbooks. Here's some shit I learned about him:

1.Hannibal Hamlin was from Maine. He went to school and helped take care of the family after his dad died. Then he became a lawyer. Shock shock shockily wock.

2. He held some local offices, then went to the House, and later the Senate. But Hannibal was straight-edge, and didn't really fit in with the other antebellum-era Senators. Of his colleagues he noticed that,
New York Senator Silas Wright was never sober and even sipped whiskey while he addressed the Senate. Hamlin estimated that as many as a third of the senators were drunk by the end of a daily session and that after a long executive session (held behind closed doors) two-thirds of the members left inebriated.
That sounds like a Senate I'd like to get elected to, but apparently Hanniballoo wasn't a fan.

3. He started out his political career as a Democrat, but he was like, "Hey, I'm not so down with spreading this whole 'slavery' thing," and eventually had to break with the party. He fought with Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, and Jefferson Davis while serving with them in Congress. He also started carrying a gun because he totally thought J. Davis was going to jump him. He probably would have, let's be honest.

4. After what became known as the Republican Party formed and Hamlin's first wife died (he totally got remarried to her way younger half-sister, ew), he made the switchy-switch. He served a very brief term as Maine's governor before going back to the Senate. Somehow he ended up getting nominated to be Lincoln's running mate in 1860. And he was like, "Sure, why not?" Some people claimed he was a mulatto because he was "swarthy." These people lost the election, as well as the Civil War.

5. Hanniballpointpen quickly figured out that Vice Presidents have no power or responsibility. He was none too pleased, since he got to hang out in the Senate all the time, but could only vote if there was a tie. And there was a war on! But he did use his limited purview to make a rule against selling booze in the Senate restaurant. Luckily most of the awesomely drunk Senators were now part of the Confederacy, and there was not a drunken riot on his hands. Still, though: LAME. Imagine the crazy shit that people like Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens or Conrad "Secret Iraq Plan" Burns would have said if liquor were more readily available in the Capitol.

6. Anyway, Hamlin and Lincoln's ticket was always a marriage of political convenience, and when the 1864 election rolled around, Abe was like, "Nice try Hansy, but I think I'm going to go with this Andrew Johnson fellow this time." PWN3D. Then Johnson ended up getting drunk for his Vice Presidential inaugural address. Instead of realizing how awesome this was, Hamlin continued to be all judgey about the whole booze thing.

7. He went back to the Senate and then later served as Ambassador to Spain. He died at his local social club in 1891, at the table where he regularly played cards. (Without alcohol? What's the point?)

Hannibal Hamlin: dumped by Lincoln for Johnson. Guess he managed to move on with his life, though he never did get to be President.

Feel free to come up with more interesting details for his life in the comments. Here, I'll start: Maybe Hannibal Hamlin wasn't a mulatto, but he was a secret Jewish-Canadian spy sent to try and fix America before they blowed themselves up. Didn't work. (Well, mostly they just lined up and shot at each other, but you know what I mean.)

What else?


  1. So I just watched Silence of the Lambs and thought, "Who has the name Hannibal?" I should have known some loser politician from the 19th Century would have. I bet Hannibal Hamlin was a cannibal, too.

  2. Or, you know, the incredibly famous ancient general, Hannibal Barca, who kicked Rome's ass multiple times but eventually lost the war because the carthaginian government talked alot and didnt take the actions neccesary. Hannibal Hamlin was most probably named after this Hannibal.

  3. umm yea, he's actually distantly related to me

  4. Also a distant relative,The man was from pure English bloodline,minister to spain.He had alot of class and accepted people for who were,something you might try.You know what they say,if you don't have something nice to say! We could do with alot less haters in this world,might stop half the wars.Have a nice day~