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Hannibal Hamlin of Paris Hill

This slideshow contains 22 items
1
Hannibal Hamlin, statesman

Hannibal Hamlin, statesman

Item 5583 info
Maine Historical Society

Hannibal Hamlin's boyhood in the Oxford County shire town of Paris Hill probably was similar to childhoods of innumerable other boys in small, rural communities.

He loved to fish, hunt, farm, read, and engage in practical jokes.

Hamlin also developed an interest in the law and politics and, in 1860, he became Abraham Lincoln's vice president.


2
Dr. Cyrus Hamlin Portrait, ca. 1810

Dr. Cyrus Hamlin Portrait, ca. 1810

Item 28788 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hamlin was named after his uncle, the twin brother of his father, Cyrus Hamlin.

The twins were born in Harvard, Massachusetts, in 1769. Cyrus studied medicine at Harvard College, then followed three of his brothers to Maine, settling in Livermore.

Besides serving as town physician, Hamlin was town clerk and moderator, and representative from Livermore to the Massachusetts General Court.

In 1806, he was appointed Clerk of Courts in the newly formed Oxford County and moved to Paris with his wife and three children.

He also was probate judge and sheriff of Oxford County for many years.


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Portrait of Anna Livermore Hamlin, ca. 1820

Portrait of Anna Livermore Hamlin, ca. 1820

Item 28794 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hamlin's mother, Anna Livermore, was the daughter of Deacon Elijah Livermore and Hannah Clark Livermore, both descendants of early New England settlers and founders of the town of Livermore.

Anna Hamlin is said to have stopped a jailbreak when her husband, the sheriff, was away.

She often had been seen to "place one hand on the back of a horse and vault with ease into the saddle."

On August 27, 1809, Anna gave birth to her fifth child, the second born in the home in Paris. Anna and Cyrus named him Hannibal after his uncle.


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Residence of Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1900

Residence of Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1900

Item 28780 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Dr. Hamlin built a three-story white house with high square rooms and large windows that look out over the New Hampshire mountains on one side and the Paris Hill Common and Baptist Meeting house on the other.

The home became a center of activity and hospitality in the village of Paris, from the time the Hamlins welcomed the traveling Pequawket Indian woman Molly Ockett, to the boarding of a future governor of the state, Enoch Lincoln.

The Hamlins also provided space for village theater productions and many quilts were stitched together by the ladies of Paris in the spacious rooms.


5
Molly Ockett's purse, ca. 1785

Molly Ockett's purse, ca. 1785

Item 6802 info
Maine Historical Society

The winter after Hannibal Hamlin was born, during a period of severe weather, an elderly Native American woman named Marie Agathe, known to the English settlers as Molly Ockett, came to the Hamlin homestead looking for shelter.

She had a reputation as a healer, and when she was welcomed into the home, she discovered that the infant Hannibal was ill.

She is credited with nursing the baby back to health and predicting his future success.


6
Paris Hill Common as it looked ca. 1822

Paris Hill Common as it looked ca. 1822

Item 28789 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hannibal grew up in the large white farmhouse, attended a local school, shared in the farm work with his siblings and played in the shadow of the jail and courthouse.

His father was both local doctor and sheriff, his mother took food to the prisoners, and lawyers and judges were guests in his home.

One of his earliest memories, as reported by his grandson Charles in the biography Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin, was seeing a company of soldiers gathered on the Common in front of his house in 1812, then seeing them march away.

Hamlin reportedly preferred being outside to being confined indoors at his studies. His grandson also reported that Hamlin was a leader among the town's boys.


7
First Baptist Church, Paris Hill, ca. 1990

First Baptist Church, Paris Hill, ca. 1990

Item 28791 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

One story about Hamlin's youth lived on for several generations.

The Baptist Church by the town common installed a bell in 1821, which was an important means of communication. It rang for the court summons, it rang for evening curfew, it rang for Sunday services and it tolled mournfully for funerals, one stroke for each year the deceased had lived.

On the fourth of July, the boys of Paris Hill worked in relays to keep the bell ringing all day.

One spring Sunday, a group of revival converts was gathered at a local brook for baptism. Just as the first candidate was being lowered into the water, the funeral toll rang.

Those gathered wondered who had died, but went on with what were to be 17 baptisms.

As the next candidate was taken to the water's edge, the funeral bell rang again, and again for the third candidate.

Finally someone in the crowd noticed a boy on the bank waving a red bandana behind his back. Looking to see whom he might be waving at, a boy was spotted in the tallest tree on the high bank also signaling with a red bandana.

As these two boys were close companions of Hannibal Hamlin, it did not take long to figure out who was in the bell tower.


8
Oxford County Jail, ca. 1890

Oxford County Jail, ca. 1890

Item 28793 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

As a result of this or perhaps another similar incident, Hannibal found himself temporarily incarcerated in the jail that bordered his father's land.

His mother was horrified and humiliated but his father accepted the sentence and let Hannibal spend a night in the cell.


9
Smith's Brook, Paris, ca. 1880

Smith's Brook, Paris, ca. 1880

Item 28792 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Farming, fishing and hunting were the ruling passions of Hannibal's teenage years.

He scoured the mountains and countryside for game and fish, and when he found a secluded trout brook, he revealed the location selectively.

Years later, he returned to Paris Hill to fish, and people on the Hill said he again went to his secret fishing spots for peace and a few good fish.


10
Mineral covered box, ca. 1820

Mineral covered box, ca. 1820

Item 28790 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

In 1820 Elijah Hamlin, Hannibal's older brother, and Ezekiel Holmes discovered some interesting crystals that turned out to be tourmaline.

Mining soon began in Maine's -- and the country's -- first gem mine.

Many interesting rocks and minerals could be found around Mt. Mica, which was located less than a mile from Paris Hill.

This box, found in Hamlin's attic, is decorated with many rocks and gems that probably came from the area.


11
Thespian Club, Paris Hill, 1864

Thespian Club, Paris Hill, 1864

Item 28781 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

The large Hamlin parlor often was used for social gatherings.

Dr. Hamlin enjoyed amateur theatrics and helped form a Thespian club. The parlor became the theater.

Local residents, including the Hamlins, were the actors and actresses.

During a visit to Boston in 1827, Hannibal discovered the old Boston Theater and was "seized with the desire to become an actor." His father urged him to "make use of your talents in a sensible calling," and Hannibal returned home to prepare for college.


12
Enoch Lincoln, Paris

Enoch Lincoln, Paris

Item 28920 info
Maine Historical Society

Between 1819 and 1826, Enoch Lincoln, a lawyer and legislator, boarded with the Hamlins.

Lincoln's friendship and counsel and extensive library were a great comfort to young Hannibal.

In the several years before Maine became a state, Lincoln was the U.S. Representative from the 7th District of Massachusetts; then a U.S. Representative from Maine, 1821-26.

Lincoln was elected Governor of Maine in 1826 and soon moved to Augusta, but while he was in the Hamlin home he shared his library and his views on many important issues of the time, including slavery.

Lincoln died in 1829 while serving as governor.


13
The Hebron Semester, 1881

The Hebron Semester, 1881

Item 28786 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hannibal entered Hebron Academy in 1826 where he studied the classics, mathematics, history and biology.

His eventual choice of a profession however, was encouraged by an event that happened outside of the classroom.

Hamlin and several of his friends were involved in a scrape with an intoxicated neighbor at a "Husking Party," which resulted in an accusation of "assault and battery" against the schoolboys.

Hamlin had followed local trials and had enough knowledge of the language to serve as defense attorney.

The old Justice of the Peace who had limited knowledge of the law was reportedly confused by Hannibal's arguments and technical terms and soon dismissed him, fined his friends a dollar each, and adjourned the court.

Before his year at Hebron was completed, however, Hamlin had to return home because his brother Cyrus had tuberculosis and Hannibal was needed to help with the farm.


14
Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1850

Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1850

Item 28787 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hamlin wanted to continue his education, but he also loved farming and accepted his responsibilities at home.

In the fall of 1827, Hannibal applied for the teaching vacancy at his old school at Paris Hill.

He drew on his diplomatic skills to teach the youngsters in his charge and handle the older students who came to school in the winter and early spring when they were not needed on the farm.

His grandson wrote, "He found his experience of value to him, and often advised young men to spend a winter teaching, to learn how to impart their knowledge and also how to exercise power; in fact he enforced these ideas on several of his sons at different times ..."


15
Hannibal Hamlin, 1860

Hannibal Hamlin, 1860

Item 28921 info
Maine Historical Society

In 1829, released from his farm duties, Hannibal went to live with his brother, Elijah, who had a law practice in Columbia.

He read law and helped with his brother's practice.

In the spring Hannibal's father contracted pneumonia and died within a few days. Again, Hamlin returned home to mourn his father and help support his mother and sisters.

Realizing that college was no longer an option for him, he spent his days farming and his nights studying.

Hamlin was not old enough to vote in the election of 1829, but he campaigned for Andrew Jackson and shared in the exultation over his election.


16
Horatio King, Washington, D.C., ca. 1870

Horatio King, Washington, D.C., ca. 1870

Item 28785 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Horatio King and Hamlin were youthful companions on Paris Hill.

King got a job as a printer's devil on the Jeffersonian, a Jacksonian Democrat newspaper, and contemplated a career as a newspaper editor.

Hamlin and King bought the paper and on May 30, 1830, it appeared under the management of Hamlin and King.

They retained the editor, Joseph Cole, and King and Hamlin contributed news and did the printing.

After six months, Hamlin offered to sell his share to King, who eventually merged the paper with a Portland paper. King, then entered the Postal Service and made it his career, eventually becoming Postmaster General for a short time in 1861.


17
Judge Emery house, Paris

Judge Emery house, Paris

Item 28784 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hamlin's neighbor was Judge Stephen Emery and Hannibal was a frequent visitor in the Emery home. Judge Emery had a strong interest in Hannibal and encouraged him to get involved in politics.

Judge Emery's oldest daughter, Sarah, was a teenager in 1830, and Hannibal's attention to her was noticed though no formal commitment was made at that time.

Before he could marry, Hamlin needed to establish a career.


18
Samuel Fessenden, Portland

Samuel Fessenden, Portland

Item 11864 info
Maine Historical Society

Hamlin saved enough money to spend a year studying with a law firm in Portland.

He chose the law firm of Fessenden & Deblois and they accepted him as a student in 1832. He participated in the legal work instead of just the menial tasks that often fell to students.

In addition, Samuel Fessenden was an ardent abolitionist and his views probably helped educate Hamlin.

When his year was complete, the firm returned to him the money he had given them to study there.

He returned to Paris Hill in the spring of 1833 and was admitted to the bar. On the same day he won his first court case in the court of Judge Stephen Emery.

His argument won praise and Judge Emery said of Hannibal; ". . .a young man who was fortunate enough to begin his active career by winning his first case and his wife on the same day."

Sarah Emery and Hannibal Hamlin were married on December 10, 1833 and soon after they left Paris Hill for Lincoln, where Hamlin practiced briefly before moving to Hampden.

Hannibal and Sarah lived most of their adult lives in Bangor and Hannibal only returned to Paris Hill to visit family.

When Sarah died 23 years after they were married, Hamlin returned to the Emery house on Paris Hill to ask for the hand of Emery's youngest daughter, Ellen Vesta, who was 21.

Hamlin and Judge Emery remained close and exchanged many letters over the years.


19
Lincoln/Hamlin Campaign Flag, 1860

Lincoln/Hamlin Campaign Flag, 1860

Item 28783 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

On July 11, 1860, a mass meeting was held on Paris Hill to endorse the nomination of Republicans Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin for President and Vice President.

This festive event drew large crowds, and the principal speaker was Paris' own Hannibal Hamlin who delivered his speech from a stand erected in front of his birthplace and childhood home.

Hamlin, who had been a state and U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator, and Governor of Maine, served one term as vice president. He later served as Ambassador to Spain.


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Hamlin Memorial Exercises

Hamlin Memorial Exercises

Item 28795 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hamlin died on July 4, 1891 in Bangor.

On Friday, August 27, 1909, the centennial of Hamlin's birth, "all roads led to Paris Hill" as friends, family, neighbors, and dignitaries gathered to honor the memory of Hannibal Hamlin.


21
Hamlin boulder on the way to Paris Hill

Hamlin boulder on the way to Paris Hill

Item 28782 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

A memorial in the form of a large boulder bearing a bronze tablet commemorating Hamlin's public service was placed on the Common in front of the house where he was born.

The Military Order of the Loyal Legion, and citizens of the town of Paris planned the events of the day.

The first speaker and honorary chairman was General Joshua L. Chamberlain of Brunswick.

The band of the National Soldiers' Home at Togus played for the crowd of almost 3,000 people, and granddaughter Louise Hamlin and grandniece Julia Carter unveiled the Memorial.


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Birthplace of Hannibal Hamlin, Paris Hill, 1948

Birthplace of Hannibal Hamlin, Paris Hill, 1948

Item 5582 info
Maine Historical Society

The Hannibal Hamlin Sesquicentennial was celebrated on August 22, 1959 with a parade, a Little League baseball game on the Common, lunch, historic house tours, and speakers including Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

The Paris Hill Golf course was open to all for the day and the celebration concluded with a lobster supper at the Old Academy building.

A special reprinting of The Jeffersonian, the newspaper Hamlin once owned and printed with Horatio King, contained stories of Paris Hill and Hamlin family history, and was sold to visitors for 25 cents a copy.

Sources
Charles Eugene Hamlin, Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin (1899)

H. Draper Hunt, Hannibal Hamlin of Maine: Lincoln's First Vice President (1969)

Una Taylor Mournian, "Hannibal Hamlin -- Maine's Only Vice President," in Lewiston Journal Magazine, May 9, 1936.


This slideshow contains 22 items