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 Hannibal Hamlin

Hannibal Hamlin

DATE OF BIRTH:  August 27, 1809
DATE OF DEATH:  July 4, 1891
TERM IN OFFICE:  January 8, 1857 – February 26, 1857
FIRST LADY:  Ellen V. Emery

QUOTE: In a State like ours, where the industrial pursuits are so varied, with a large population upon the frontier still progressing into, and subduing the forests, there is undoubtedly a greater necessity for legislation, than in a community where its industry has become settled and systematized.

Inaugural Address, January 8, 1857

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES:State Representative (Speaker of the House), Congressman, U. S. Senator, Vice President during Abraham Lincoln’s first term, Collector of Customs for Boston, Minister to Spain


Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century.  Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 33-39.

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

Hamlin, Charles E.  The Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin.  Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1899

“Hon. Hannibal Hamlin,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder.  Bangor, January, 1893, pp. 1-7.

Hunt, H. Draper.  Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s First Vice President.  Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1969.

Hunt, H. Draper.  “Hannibal Hamlin,” American National Biography.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, Vol. 9, pp. 936-938.

Robinson, William A.  “Hannibal Hamlin,” Dictionary of American Biography.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933, Vol. 13, pp. 196-198.

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