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Hannibal Hamlin was a 19th century U.S. senator who became the country’s 15th vice president, serving under Abraham Lincoln.
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Lincoln issued the proclamation in 1862, once he understood its strategic usefulness.
With Lincoln’s re-election campaign under way in 1864, he decided not to push for Hamlin as his running mate, selecting southern Democrat Andrew Johnson instead. Though Hamlin went along quietly with the decision, he was hurt by the chain of events, having left his Senate seat to take a position he didn’t want only to be ultimately let go. Nonetheless,
he helped with Lincoln’s campaign and briefly served as part of the Union’s armed forces. (He had enlisted years earlier, and his unit was called to active duty in the summer of 1864.)
Following Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, Andrew Johnson became president and appointed Hamlin to be collector for the port of Boston. The two had strong ideological differences, however. Hamlin favoring a Radical Reconstruction agenda in the South that guaranteed the rights of freed African Americans. In contrast, Johnson took a conciliatory approach with former members of the Confederacy, vetoing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and opposing the 14th Amendment, which would institute black citizenship. Hamlin resigned from his Boston post in disagreement with Johnson’s policies, and was re-elected to the Senate in 1869, serving two terms.
Suffering from heart disease in his later years, Hamlin chose not to run for the Senate again in 1880. He was instead made a diplomat to Spain—an office that was less strenuous in its duties—and officially retired from political life in 1882. He died on July 4, 1891, in Bangor, Maine, at the age of 81.
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