John Parker Hale was born in Rochester, Stafford County, on 31st March, 1806. After graduating from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Hale studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1830.
A radical member of the Democratic Party, Hale was employed as a United States district attorney (1834-41). Elected to the House of Representatives in 1842, Hale, with Joseph Giddings became the leader of anti-slavery movement in Congress. Later they were joined by William Seward, Hannibal Hamlin, Salmon Chase, Benjamin Wade and George Julian. Hale also campaigned against flogging in the United States Navy.
Hale was a member of the Liberty Party before joining the Free Soil Party in 1848. Four years later he became the party's presidential candidate but he only 150,000 votes against the victor, Franklin Pierce.
Hale returned to his work as a lawyer but after joining the Republican Party he was elected to the Senate in 1855. He soon emerged as one of the leaders of the group that became known as the Radical Republicans.
In 1865 President Abraham Lincoln appointed Hale as his Minister of Spain. He held the post until 1869 when he returned to work in the United States. John Parker Hale died in Dover, New Hampshire, on 19th November, 1873.