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 Joseph H. Williams

Joseph H. Williams

DATE OF BIRTH:  February 15, 1814
DATE OF DEATH:  July 19, 1896
TERM IN OFFICE:  February 26, 1857 – January 8, 1858
FIRST LADY:  Apphia Putnam

QUOTE: Unlike Governor Hamlin with whom your labors have been hitherto associated, who was borne to the Executive Chair on the topmost wave of jubilant popular favor, I have no assurances in advance from a confiding constituency to sustain and encourage me in this office, but must draw my inspiration solely from my belief that a just and intelligent people; in their judgment of their public servants, will always give due weight to honesty of intention and an assiduous endeavor to promote the general good.

Inaugural Address, February 26, 1857

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES: State Senator (President of the Senate), State Representative


Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century.  Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 134-137.

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

“Ex-Governor Williams,” Daily Eastern Argus, Portland, July 20, 1896.

“Governor Williams,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, Bangor, 1889, pp. 249-254.

North, James W.  The History of Augusta.  Augusta: Clapp and North, 1870, pp. 962-963.

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