With speculation mounting about a possible running mate for frontrunner Sen. John Kerry, it seems a good time for a brief lesson in American political history. And the Associated Press’ Siobhan McDonough delivers a nice one this morning, full of vice presidential trivia (and some trivial VP’s).

For example, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin felt so superfluous that he headed back to Maine and joined the Coast Guard. (No doubt the question asked about Hamlin at the time was not “Did he serve?” but “Why is he serving?” How times change.)

McDonough’s story has relevance for political junkies today. We are reminded that recent history is rife with potential VP’s who routinely declared themselves “not interested,” only to have a sudden change of heart when the phone rang.

Let’s see if 2004 is any different.

—S.Q.S.

Note: This article was originally posted at 11:25 a.m.

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.