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


Governor John Fairfield

John Fairfield

DATE OF BIRTH:  Jan. 30, 1797
DATE OF DEATH:  Dec. 24, 1847
PLACE OF DEATH:  Washington, DC
TERM IN OFFICE:  1) January 4, 1839 – January 12, 1841
2) January 4, 1842 – March 7, 1843
FIRST LADY:  Anna Paine

QUOTE: [Government] is not a power adverse to that of the people… It is in fact a part of the people themselves; having, with them, identical interests and common objects. The enjoyment of equal rights, a common participation in the choice of public officers, the sentiment of patriotism, a general diffusion of intelligence…are far better guarantees for the stability of government, than any that merely mercenary interests can afford.

Inaugural Address, January 4, 1842

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES: Reporter of Decisions of the Maine Supreme Court, Congressman, U.S. Senator


Arndt, J. Chris.  “John Fairfield,” American National Biography.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, Vol. 7, pp. 686-687.

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

“Death of Mr. Fairfield,” Eastern Argus, Portland, December 27, 1847.

Hamilton, Harry Fairfield.  “Gov. John Fairfield,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, Bangor, 1887, pp. 1-7.

Robinson, William A.  “John Fairfield,” Dictionary of American Biography.  New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1933, Vol. VI, pp. 257-258.

Staples, Arthur G., Editor.  “The Letters of John Fairfield.”  Lewiston: Lewiston Journal Company, 1922.

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