History of Maine (10)

THREE GIANTS. Prohibition and the abolitionist movement gave the Republican Party its start in Maine in 1854. Hannibal Hamlin, a Democratic U.S. senator who broke with his party over the slavery question, was instrumental in forming the Republican Party in Maine, and served as the state's first GOP governor. In 1860 Hamlin was elected the nation's first Republican vice president under Abraham Lincoln.

Also during this period there emerged Maine's most influential 19th century political figure, James G. Blaine. From the mid-1860s to the end of the century Blaine virtually dominated state and national Republican politics, as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a powerful U.S. senator, and secretary of state in three Republican administrations. He was the GOP presidential candidate in 1884, but lost narrowly to Grover Cleveland.

Thomas B. Reed served continuously in Congress through the final quarter of the 19th century, and was its most powerful political figure during much of that time. A three-term House speaker, Reed was a masterful parliamentarian who used his position so vigorously to bring about vital reforms in House rules that he became known as "Czar Reed." He literally rewrote the book on parliamentary procedure: Reed's Rules of Order are still used in the Maine Legislature.