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William King (governor)

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William King February 9, 1768 – June 17, 1852 was an American merchant, shipbuilder, army officer, and statesman from Bath, Maine A proponent of statehood for Maine, he became its first governor when it separated from Massachusetts in 1820


  • 1 Personal and business career
  • 2 Political career
  • 3 Later life
  • 4 Further reading
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Personal and business careeredit

William King was born to Richard King, a merchant and shipowner, and Mary Black, on February 9, 1768 at Scarborough, then in the Province of Massachusetts Bay His formal education was limited to local schools he spent one term at Phillips Academy and ended when he was thirteen He was largely self-educated Starting as a hand in a saw-mill, he went on to open his own mill

King was employed in a variety of businesses, including as a shipbuilder, then a ship-owner He became the largest merchant shipping owner in Maine He became a successful merchant and a significant real-estate investor He opened the first cotton mill in Maine, at Brunswick He founded and was president of the first bank of Bath

Political careeredit

King became active politically in 1795 as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party He represented Topsham in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1795 and 1799 After he moved to Bath, he represented that town in 1804 He served in the Massachusetts Senate for Lincoln County from 1807 to 1811

When the War of 1812 began, Massachusetts made him major general of the militia, in charge of the Maine district He devoted much of his attention to coastal shipping and defenses He also led recruiting efforts for the regular army, for which he was made a colonel in the United States Army In 1813 King began a seven-year effort that started with his petition to Massachusetts for separation

In 1816 he was re-elected to the Massachusetts Senate, and finally secured their approval for Maine to become a separate state, in 1818 The Missouri Compromise allowed Maine to be recognized as a state on March 15, 1820 He was shortly thereafter elected governor of the new state1

In May 1821, President James Monroe named him as a special minister to negotiate a treaty with Spain King resigned as governor on May 28, 1821, to take the position of US commissioner

By 1824 he had successfully negotiated a treaty that kept the United States from becoming embroiled in issues surrounding the Mexican struggle for independence He returned home and resumed private life

With the shifting of political parties, he ran once more for governor, as a Whig in 1834, but lost

Later lifeedit

King continued as a prominent business man, investor, and ship-owner Even though he had a very limited education, he served for years as a trustee and overseer of Bowdoin College, and as a trustee of Waterville College now called Colby College2

He died at home, in Bath, Maine on June 17, 1852, and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery there3

King's offspring emigrated to Upland, California

Further readingedit

  • Smith, Joshua M ""The Yankee Soldier's Might: The District of Maine and the Reputation of the Massachusetts Militia, 1800-1812," New England Quarterly LXXXIV no 2 June 2011, 234-264
  • Marion Smith; "General William King: Merchant, Shipbuilder, and Maine's first Governor"; 1980, Down East Books, ISBN 0-89272-072-7


  1. ^ "Maine Governor William King" National Governors Association Retrieved August 18, 2012 
  2. ^ "William King" Architect of the Capitol Retrieved August 18, 2012 
  3. ^ "Maine Governor William King" National Governors Association Retrieved August 18, 2012 

External linksedit

  • William King at Find a Grave
  • National Governors Association
  • Architect of the Capitol
Political offices
Preceded by
Governor of Maine
Succeeded by
William D Williamson

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