Governor Richard King
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

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THE first Governor of Maine was a son of Richard King, of Scarborough, who is said to have been a man of surpassing natural ability. He was a merchant, and laid the foundation of his fortune from the profits he received as Commissary under Sir William Pepperell.

William King. the seventh child of Richard, was born in Scarborough, Me., February 9, 1768. He. was half brother to Rufus King, the statesman, who took such an important part in the formation of our government. William had few advantages in his boyhood. While Rufus was fitting himself at Cambridge for the great eminence he afterwards attained in the nation, William was tending a saw-mill in Saco. But notwithstanding his lack of early educational training, his wonderful native ability, his great natural resources, and his strong, energetic intellect forced him early to the front. He set his standard high, and his ambition was untiring and almost unconquerable. Being possessed of wonderful perceptive faculties and a sound judgment, he relied upon these to carry him through, and they never failed him. In native endowment he was thought to have been superior to his celebrated brother, Rufus.

When a young man Mr. King removed to Topsham, where he lived for a time, but as the Kennebec River offered superior advantages for his lumbering and ship building operations, he removed to Bath in or about the year 1800, where he carried on business very extensively. He afterwards established the town of Kingfield, in Franklin County, of which he was at one time principal owner.

He was a merchant and ship-builder, in which he acquired a large fortune. At one time he was one of the largest ship-owners in America. In politics he was a Democrat, and being first in everything he was connected with, he was the leader of his party in Maine-the master mind that managed all the party machinery. He wielded an immense influence in favor of the separation of Maine from Massachusetts. He was President of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the State, and it was his great wisdom and good judgment that directed all the affairs in the formation of the new State.

Mr. King became immensely popular with the people, and was elected the first Governor of Maine by an overwhelming majority. He administered the office with marked ability and to the great satisfaction of the people. Before the expiration of his term, he was appointed a Commissioner under the Spanish Treaty at Washington. Upon receiving this appointment, he resigned the office fo Governor of the State and entered upon the duties of his new office, which he also discharged with great ability. He afterwards accepted the appointment as Collector of Customs at Bath, which office he held from 1831 to 1834. He was a prominent Free Mason and was the first Grand Master of Masons in this State.

Several writers have described his characteristics and personal appearance. John H. Sheppard, Esq.. of Boston, said of him: "In his person he was tall and of a striking ligure: and with a finely formed head, strongly marked features, high forehead, and black, impending brows, he had a natural and majestic air of command which impressed every beholder with respect." Deane Dudly wrote: "The sound of his voice seemed to echo grimly from the deep concaves of his eyes, which from under their forest-like brows would sternly look a command that was not to be resisted by ordinary mortals. So conspicuous was he in every circle where he moved, that the most indifferent observer failed not to notice him."

Mr. King was unfortunate in his last years, not only in the loss of a considerable portion of his property, but in the loss of friends and relatives, which broke down his once splendid mind so that at last his sun went down in darkness. He died at Bath, Me., June 17, 1852, and his wife died in Portland, July 4, 1857.



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