March 4, 1805: Oxford County, Maine’s seventh county and the second without a seacoast, is formed from parts of York and Cumberland counties.

The home of many summer camps, the rural county is the most populous in Maine to lack a portion of the interstate highway system.

March 4, 1861: Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891), a Hampden Republican, is sworn in as the 15th U.S. vice president, serving under President Abraham Lincoln. It is the highest political office ever achieved by a Maine resident.

Carte de visite photograph of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.  Photo courtesy of digitalmaine

Hamlin, a Paris Hill native, starts his career as a lawyer, then enters politics as an anti-slavery Jacksonian Democrat. He serves in the Maine Legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate before becoming vice president. He leaves the Democrats in 1854 in protest of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which many abolitionists regard as surrender to slaveholders’ interests.

Hamlin is an early backer of emancipating slaves – a position that Lincoln, not prone to seeking Hamlin’s advice, later adopts.

Lincoln gets a new running mate, Andrew Johnson, in 1864 and wins re-election. Hamlin returns to the Senate for 12 years beginning in 1869, supporting radical reconstruction and serving as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. After a year of representing the country as minister to Spain, he retires to Bangor.

On July 4, 1891, Hamlin collapses while playing cards at the Tarratine Club in Bangor. The couch on which he dies is later displayed at the nearby Bangor Public Library and remains there today.

A large campaign banner for Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln and running mate Hannibal Hamlin dated 1860. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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