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 Israel Washburn, Jr.

Israel Washburn, Jr.

DATE OF BIRTH:  June 6, 1813
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Livermore
DATE OF DEATH:  May 12, 1883
PLACE OF DEATH:  Philadelphia
TERM IN OFFICE:  January 3, 1861 – January 8, 1863
FIRST LADY:  Mary M. Webster

QUOTE: If by striking the chains from the slaves of rebels, and destroying the property claims of traitors in black men, the war may be ended sooner than it can be if such claims are treated sacred and inviolable – and if, thereby, millions of treasure, and thousands of the lives of our brothers, the young, the gallant and the true, the pride and hope of the country, may be saved, they will demand and insist in tones that will be heard and respected, that the chains shall fall and the war cease.

Inaugural Address, January 2, 1862

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES: State Representative, Congressman, Collector of Customs for Portland


Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century.  Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 114-127.

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

“Death of Hon. Israel Washburn, Jr.,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, May 14, 1883.

Hunt, Gaillard.  Israel, Elihu and Cadwallader Washburn, A Chapter In American Biography.  New York: The MacMillan Company, 1925.

Kelsey, Kerch.  Israel Washburn, Jr., Maine’s Little Known Giant of the Civil War.  Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 2004.

Pope, Jennie Barnes.  “Israel Washburn,” Dictionary of American Biography.  New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1933, Vol. 19, pp. 502-503.

Richardson, Heather Cox.  “Israel Washburn, Jr.,”  American National Biography.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, Vol. 22, pp. 746-747.

In Memoriam, Israel Washburn, Jr.  Privately Printed, 1884.

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