Maine's Governors

Since William King was inaugurated as Maine’s first governor on June 2, 1820, the state has been led by 70 men and one woman. The position held today by Janet Trafton Mills has been occupied by such notable figures in our history as Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president; Abner Coburn, generous benefactor to Maine educational institutions; Joshua L. Chamberlain, Civil War hero at the Battle of Gettysburg; Percival P. Baxter, donor of Mount Katahdin to the state; and Edmund S. Muskie, champion of Federal environmental protection legislation.

Only two governors are not represented by pictures. Of the balance, four are shown in portraits and the rest in photographs. Photographic images dating back to the 1840s enable us to study with complete clarity the faces of the men who governed Maine during the first decades of statehood before the Civil War as well as their more recent successors. These pictures come from three sources, the Maine State Archives, the Maine Historical Society, and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

These pages are based upon research which I initially undertook in 2001 assisted by the Commission’s summer intern Adam M. Crowley of the University of Maine at Orono, now an Assistant Professor of English at Husson College in Bangor. At that point, the project was envisioned as a publication, but the ever expanding use of the internet during the last decade has led me to offer this information to a broader online audience. I want to thank the Friends of the Blaine House for hosting this information. 

Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.
Maine State Historian


Gov. William King

William King

DATE OF BIRTH:  February 9, 1768
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Scarborough
DATE OF DEATH:  June 17, 1852
PROFESSION:  Merchant, Shipbuilder
POLITICAL AFFILIATION:  Democratic-Republican
TERM IN OFFICE:  June 2, 1820 – May 28, 1821
FIRST LADY:  Ann N. Frazier

QUOTE: Under a government such as ours, a government of laws and not of men, it ought to be one of its first principles that the laws should be simple and plain and easy to understand.

Inaugural Address, June 2, 1820

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES: Spanish Treaty Commissioner, Collector of Customs for Bath, Commissioner for the Erection of the State House.


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

Chase, Henry. Representative Men of Maine. Portland: The Lakeside Press, 1893, p. III.

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. General William King. Lewiston: Twin City Printery, 1980.

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