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William King: Consummate Politican, Military Leader and Entrepreneur

This Exhibit Contains 13 Items
1
 William King, Bath,  ca. 1806

William King, Bath, ca. 1806

Item 10596 info
Patten Free Library

William King was born on February 8, 1768, in Scarborough in the District of Maine.

He was the fourth of six children of merchant Richard King and Mary (Black) King, Richard's second wife.

William received his education at home except for one term at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

After working on the family farm and in various mills, William left Scarborough at age 19 to join his younger sister, Betsy, and her husband, Dr. Benjamin Porter, in Topsham, Maine.


2
Waterfront and downtown Bath, 1851

Waterfront and downtown Bath, 1851

Item 11043 info
Patten Free Library

King moved to Bath in 1799 and served in the Massachusetts Legislature as Bath's Representative in 1800 and then as Senator of the Lincoln District in 1807 and 1808.

While in the Massachusetts Legislature, he fought hard for Maine's separation from Massachusetts.

Shortly after moving to Bath, King married Ann Frazier of Boston and built their home on a hill overlooking the wharves on the Kennebec River where his merchant fleet docked.


3
King Tavern, Bath, ca. 1910

King Tavern, Bath, ca. 1910

Item 10527 info
Patten Free Library

As Bath's leading citizen, King hosted many parties at his mansion, started the South Church, founded the Bath Bank, served as Customs Collector from 1829-1834 and participated fully in improving the city's services and infrastructure.


4
North Company of Infantry roll, Bath, 1805-1815

North Company of Infantry roll, Bath, 1805-1815

Item 10277 info
Patten Free Library

In the War of 1812, King played an important role in enlisting troops and organizing defenses to protect the Maine coast against attack by British warships.

Initially he served as Major General in the Massachusetts militia; later he was given the rank of Colonel in the U. S. Army.

In the early stages of the conflict, King and many other merchants continued to trade with the British under the protection of British licenses and by using vessels registered in neutral countries. Such trading ceased when both countries tightened trade restrictions.


5
William King real estate assessment, ca. 1847

William King real estate assessment, ca. 1847

Item 11148 info
Patten Free Library

After the War of 1812, King renewed his efforts to obtain statehood for the District of Maine, eventually presiding over its constitutional convention in 1819 and serving as the new state's first governor in 1820.

Outside the political arena, before and after the War of 1812, King became Bath's most prominent businessman, partnering with Porter and several Bath entrepreneurs in shipbuilding, banking, farming, mercantile shipping and lumbering.

He built at least 14 ships and was owner or part owner of more than 35 merchant vessels involved in trade with England, the West Indies and various ports in the United States.


6
William King's Stonehouse Farm, Bath, ca. 1920

William King's Stonehouse Farm, Bath, ca. 1920

Item 10501 info
Patten Free Library

In addition to his home and many commercial properties in downtown Bath, King also owned an architecturally unique stone hunting lodge/farmhouse on a farm in the northern part of Bath, where he grew potatoes and apples for shipping abroad.


7
James A. Thompson to Gov. King, 1837

James A. Thompson to Gov. King, 1837

Item 10022 info
Patten Free Library

While building his business empire, King also acquired many tracts of land in the vicinity of Bath and elsewhere in the state, especially farmland in what is now Franklin County, where the town of Kingfield was named for him.

Serious financial difficulties in the later years of his life forced King to sell most of these properties.


8
King Tavern and Customs House, Bath, ca. 1910

King Tavern and Customs House, Bath, ca. 1910

Item 10502 info
Patten Free Library

After his death in 1852, the King property on Front Street in Bath was sold to the Federal Government and the King mansion was moved to a nearby site where it served as an inn for more than 70 years.


9
William King receipt for Jefferson book, Bath, 1830

William King receipt for Jefferson book, Bath, 1830

Item 10041 info
Patten Free Library

Although lacking in formal education, King acquired a substantial personal library reflecting a wide range of interests. That library, purchased for the Patten Library Association after King's death, is now housed in the Patten Free Library in Bath.


10
Title page of book on digestion, Bath, 1833

Title page of book on digestion, Bath, 1833

Item 10696 info
Patten Free Library

Subjects of particular interest to King were history, politics, geography and medical science.


11
Journals of Lewis and Clark, Biddle-Allen edition

Journals of Lewis and Clark, Biddle-Allen edition

Item 10709 info
Patten Free Library

In addition to collecting the standard classical works of literature and philosophy, King acquired a number of volumes marking the significant events of his time.


12
Governor King monument, Bath

Governor King monument, Bath

Item 10526 info
Patten Free Library

William King, his wife and his two children are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Bath at a site marked with a monument erected by the State of Maine in 1855.


13
Gov. King ferry, Bath, ca. 1920

Gov. King ferry, Bath, ca. 1920

Item 11162 info
Patten Free Library

Text by Peter Goodwin and Joyce Wanger
Images from Patten Free Library

Suggested Reading:

Clark, C.E., Leamon, J.S. and Bowden, K., Maine in the Early Republic. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1988.

Judd, R.W., Churchill, E.A. and Eastman, J.W., Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present. Orono, Maine: University of Maine Press, 1995.

Owen, Henry W., The Edward Clarence Plummer History of Bath. Bath, Maine: The Times Company, 1936.

Reed, Parker McCobb, History of Bath and Environs, 1607 ? 1894. Portland, Maine: Lakeside Press, 1894.

Smith, Marion Jaques, General William King. Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1980.


This Exhibit Contains 13 Items