1809–91, Vice President of the United States (1861–65), b. Paris, Maine. Admitted to the bar in 1833, he practiced at Hampden, Maine. He was a Maine legislator (1836–40, 1847), a U.S. Representative (1843–47), and a U.S. Senator (1848–57). As a Democrat he supported Franklin Pierce's administration, but left (1856) his party when it adopted a strong proslavery platform, and joined the Republican party; in the same year he was elected governor of Maine. After a few weeks he resigned to reenter (1857) the U.S. Senate, where he became increasingly prominent. Geographical and political considerations made him a natural choice as Abraham Lincoln's running mate in 1860. As Vice President during the Civil War he presided over the Senate with ability and took part in a variety of governmental wartime activities. He returned to the Senate (1869–81), supporting the Reconstruction and the economic policies of his party. He was minister to Spain in 1881–82.
See biographies by his grandson Charles E. Hamlin (1899, repr. 1971) and H. D. Hunt (1969).
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