Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Williams, Joseph H.

Joseph H. Williams (courtesy Maine State Archives)

Joseph H. Williams (courtesy Maine State Archives)

(1783-1896) was born in Augusta on February 15, 1814. He was educated in the public schools and at a boys boarding school in Wiscasset. Williams graduated from Harvard College in 1834, attended Dame Law School in Cambridge for two years, and began his practice in 1837.

As was his father, Williams was an ardent Democrat. However, he became disillusioned when President Pierce approved a pro-slavery bill to repeal the Missouri Compromise. At the Democratic State Convention he publicly voiced his disapproval.

In 1856 he was elected to the State Senate as a Republican and became President of the Senate when the session began in 1857. When Hannibal Hamlin resigned as Governor on February 27, 1857 to accept the position of United States Senator, Williams became Governor.

Not a strong prohibitionist, he declined the Republican nomination for Governor. Williams was again a member of the legislature several times thereafter. He died on July 18, 1896.

Additional resources

*Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century. Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 134-137.

Chase, Henry, ed. Representative Men of Maine.

*“Ex-Governor Williams,” Daily Eastern Argus, Portland, July 20, 1896.

*“Governor Williams,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, Bangor, 1889, pp. 249-254.

*North, James W. The History of Augusta. Augusta: Clapp and North, 1870, pp. 962-963.

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*Cited in  Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors (accessed April 26, 2011)

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