"Daniel Ladd And The Vice President"

By: Mays Leroy Gray
As published in the "Wakulla Digest"
August, 2002

Although our archives and libraries are filled with the history of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President of the United States during the Civil War from 1861-1865, what do we know about his running mate and Vice President?  Do we even know his name?  In truth, what we do know is very little.

His name -- Hannibal Hamlin, and he has a family connection in Wakulla County.  He was a part of the same Hamlin-Ladd families from Maine who developed Magnolia, Port Leon and Newport as commerce-shipping ports in Wakulla County, North Central Florida for four decades -- from 1825 to 1865.

As we know, Daniel Ladd was born at August, Maine in 1817.  His father was Joseph Ladd, a wealthy New England merchant who owned and operated a sawmill, a packet shipping line and wool factory in Maine.  His mother was Sarah Hamlin Ladd, the daughter of Theophilus Hamlin a part of the wealthy Hamlin clan and in his own right a wealthy merchant who owned and operated a store in Augusta, Maine whose assets also included textile mills and shipping interests.  In the 1820s he began sailing southward with manufactured goods which he traded for southern-grown cotton for his textile mills which brought him and his five sons to the Florida gulf coast frontier.  The Hamlins and the Ladds became important traders and businessmen in Florida and South Georgia for generations.

Three of Theophilus Hamlin's sons, John, George and Nathaniel, established the town of Magnolia in 1825 and promoted it throughout its ten year existence.   At the age of 16, in 1833 Daniel Ladd arrived at Magnolia and began his apprenticeship as a merchant under the supervision of his Hamlin uncles.

Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891), Vice President of the United States during Lincoln's (first) administration from 1861-1865, was born at Paris, Maine on August 27, 1809.

After studying at Hebron Academy, Hamlin conducted his father's farm for a time, became schoolmaster and later managed a weekly newspaper at Paris, Maine.  He then studied law, was admitted the the Maine bar in 1833, and rapidly acquired a reputation as an able lawyer and a good public speaker.  Entering politics as an anti-slavery Democrat, he was a member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1836-1840, serving as its presiding officer.  He was a representative in the U. S. Congress from 1843-1847, and was a member of the U. S. Senate from 1848-1856.  From the very beginning of his service in Congress he was prominent as an opponent of the extension of slavery, spoke against the Compromise Measures of 1850 and 1856, chiefly because of his party's endorsement of the passage in 1854 of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise, he withdrew from the Democrats and joined the newly organized Republican Party.  The Republicans of Maine nominated him for governor in the same year, and having carried the election by a large majority he was inaugurated in that office on January 8, 1857.

In February, however, he resigned the governorship, and was again elected to the U. S. Senate 1857-1861.

His geographical and political positions made him a natural choice as Abraham Lincoln's running mate in 1860.  From 1861 to 1865, during the Civil War he was Vice President of the United States.

Voices in the North exerted great pressure upon President Abraham Lincoln to free slaves at the outbreak of the Civil War, but he refused.  He readily opposed the extension of slavery into new territory, but in his inaugural address he repeated his often-made statement that he had no wish to interfere with slavery where it already existed.   During the early months of the Civil War, Lincoln held that he was fighting to save the Union, not to free the slaves.

As the war developed into a very long and bloody struggle, many Northerners demanded that slavery should be abolished.  President Lincoln knew also that Great Britain would never intervene on the side of the South if the war became a crusade to free the slaves.  By the summer of 1862, with the war going badly for the North, Lincoln was ready to reverse his earlier stand.   He waited for a Union victory so that the decision would not look like an act of desperation.  On September 22, 1862, five days after Union forces defeated General Robert E. Lee's troops at Antietam Creek, Maryland, Lincoln issued a proclamation which stated that if those states which had seceded from the Union did not lay down their arms and return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slave to be "forever free".

When the appointed day came, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  He took this action as Commander-In-Chief of the army and navy of the United States.  Under the ordinary peacetime constitutional powers of the President, Lincoln did not have such authority and it was issued "as a fit and necessary war measure."  As Commander-In-Chief, this proclamation freed slaves only in those territories still in rebellion.  The emancipation Proclamation was of little military importance but it brought the United States a step closer to the doctrine of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal."  The slave states that remained in the Union, as well as most border states and areas of the North, did not abolish slavery until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by the U. S. Congress and was ratified and became law throughout the United States nearly three years later, on December 18, 1865.

While serving as Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin was one of the chief advisers to President Lincoln and strongly urged both the Emancipation Proclamation and the inclusion of African Americans in the Union Army.

From January 1863 to the end of the Civil War at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, there were 186,000 African Americans who had enlisted in the Union Army, including 93,000 from Confederate States.

As Vice President during the Civil War, Hannibal Hamlin presided over the Senate with ability and took a major role in a variety of important governmental wartime activities.  After the war he again served in the U. S. Senate (1869-1881), was later appointed as minister to Spain and then retired from public life.  He died at Bangor, Maine on July 4, 1891.

A except from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which applies to freeing the slaves and which gave them the right to serve in the Union Army and Navy is historical and relevant:

"And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated (Confederate) States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, shall recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons."

"And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary sef-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases where allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages."

"And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service."

"And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of God...."

The 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution was proposed February 1, 1865 and became Law December, 18, 1865. It proclaims and states:

"Section 1.  Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall bave been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction"

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had freed the slave of the South.  This Amendment to the Constitution completed the job by freeing the slaves in the border states as well as those in the North.

"Section 2.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Vice President Hamlin, himself a member of the prominent Hamlin family of Maine, was Daniel Ladd's cousin from his mother's side of the family.

So here again, we find Wakulla County eing touched by our National history.

Daniel Ladd, whose family roots ran deep in Maine, was anti-slavery in principle, and was opposed to the secession of Florida from the Union, found himself in a conundrum.  With 28 years of his life invested in Magnolia, Port Leon and Newport in Wakulla County, Florida, his Southern friends and neighbors, and all of his financial investment in Florida -- what was he to do?  With most of the Hamlin and some of the Ladd families and businesses located in Maine and his cousin , Hannibal Hamlin, now Vice President of the United States, the Civil War placed Daniel Ladd in a painful position.

Like so many Americans living in the North and the South, the Civil War forced them to choose sides and suffer the consequences.  Obviously, with his family, political and business interests in Maine, including his connection with the Lincoln-Hamlin administration, he could have gained financially by selling his North Florida interest, going North and supporting the Union.

In the end, Daniel Ladd stayed in Wakulla  County and supported the Confederacy, a decision which proved to be costly in the estrangement of his family in Maine as well as the destruction of his beloved Newport in Wakulla County.