Maine: An Encyclopedia
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King, William

Portrait of Governor William King

Portrait of Governor William King

Portrait of Governor William King

Portrait of Governor William King

(1768-1852) the first governor of Maine, was a wealthy business owner and politician. At one point, the wealthiest ship owner in Maine, he was active in politics representing first Topsham then Bath in the Massachusetts legislature at various times between 1795 and 1819.

Home in Bath of Governor William King

Home in Bath of Governor William King

Grounds at the William King Homestead

Grounds at the William King Homestead

He was the leading force behind the movement for separation of Maine from Massachusetts heading the Democracy of Maine movement. In 1819 he was made president of the constitutional convention which drafted Maine’s founding document. That convention nominated him for governor, an office he won with 21,083 votes of the 22,014 cast in the first such election in 1820. Read his inaugural address.

Though governing in a nonpartisan manner, he was a Democratic-Republican, known as the “Jeffersonians,” a precursor to the current Democratic Party.

King resigned his office in 1821 to take a federal position seeking, but failing to obtain, a higher federal office. In 1835 he ran again for governor as a Whig; he was overwhelmingly defeated. His homestead in Bath is a well-preserved stone mansion known as “Stone House.”

Earlier in his career, King, known as the “Sultan of Bath,” organized the first bank in that city, and was a principal owner of the first cotton mill in Maine in 1809, located in Brunswick. An extensive owner of real estate, the town of Kingfield in Franklin County was one of his holdings.

Plaque: Stonehouse, c. 1800, private residence since 1916

Plaque: Stonehouse, c. 1800, private residence since 1916

Additional resources

*Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century. Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 77-80.

Chase, Henry. Representative Men of Maine.

*Dudley, Deane. “Recollections of Gov. King, First Governor of Maine,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, Bangor, 1884, pp. 95-106.

*Eastern Argus, Portland, June 21, 1852.

*Garraty, John A. and Carnes, Mark C. “William King,” American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, Vol. 12, pp. 719-720.

*Malone, Dumas. “William King,” Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933, Vol. 10, pp. 405-406.

Smith, Marion Jacques. A History of Maine. From Wilderness to Statehood. Portland: Falmouth Publishing House. 1949.

Smith, Marion Jacques.  General William King: Merchant, Shipbuilder, And Maine’s First Governor. Camden, Maine. Down East Books. c1980.

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*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011)




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2 Responses to King, William

  1. avery says:

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