Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hannibal Hamlin

The 15th Vice President of the United States has always intrigued me, not because I regard him as a remarkably admirable man or because he made notable accomplishments, but simply because I enjoy his name. Who names his child after a rampaging Carthaginian?

Hamlin came from Maine, where his ascendancy to the Vice Presidency cemented the state GOP in national prominence for many years. He served in the state legislature, and after failing to be renominated in 1864, as a U.S. Senator and ambassador to Spain in the Garfield administration. He died playing cards in Bangor.

He advocated the position that all American citizens enjoyed the full protection of the Bill of Rights against every government simply as an incident of citizenship. As a private citizen between his stints in the White House and the Capitol, he agitated in favor of Radical Republican political causes in the run-up to the adoption of the 14th Amendment.

And he had an amusingly alliterative name.

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