John P. Hale
by R.D. Monroe, Ph.D.


John P. Hale (1806-1873) was born in Rochester, New Hampshire. He father died when Hale was thirteen, and his mother moved the surviving children to Maine. She scraped up enough money to send Hale to Phillips Exeter Academy and Bowdoin College. Hale then studied the law and became a lawyer. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1843 as a Democrat, where he quickly established himself as a leading antislavery member. Hale opposed Texas annexation and the gag rule, and for those acts of apostasy from Democratic orthodoxy, he was purged from the ticket for re-election. An antislavery coalition elected him to the Senate in 1846. The following year the Liberty party nominated Hale for the presidency, but he eventually threw his support to Martin Van Buren and the Free Soil party. He ran for president in 1852 as the Free Soil candidate but his vote totals were lower than Van Buren's in 1848.