William King Memorial

On June 19, 1852, local citizens gathered to bury celebrated statesman William King after his death from influenza on June 17. King is best known for taking on the role of Maine’s first governor in 1820. In Bath, King established the first bank, built and owned many merchant vessels, and amassed an impressive library now preserved in our special collections.

King’s obituary was printed in the June 25th issue of the Northern Tribune. In the same issue, the paper printed a decree from the city government celebrating King, and an account of the funeral: “It was fit that there should be general sorrow and public demonstration of grief,” the account reads. “Our citizens all appeared to feel that it was a time to mourn over the grave of the departed, a day when it was manliness to weep and be afflicted.”

Shortly after King’s death, George F. and John Patten presented King’s private library, for which they paid $300, to the Patten Library Association.

Read more about the King Collection here.

Even though King was not well educated, he valued education highly. Inspired by Thomas Jefferson, [1] King worked with others to draft Article VIII of the Maine Constitution, which empowered Maine towns to provide public education in support of democratic ideals.

Learn more about William King:

Check out Marion Jaques Smith’s biography of King, General William King: Merchant, Shipbuilder, and Maine’s First Governor.

Read about the William King Collection at Patten Free Library.

Visit our online exhibit, William King: Politician, Military Leader, and Entrepreneur

Search Maine Memory Network for other photographs and documents related to William King.

Search for William King’s grave in Maple Grove Cemetery.

Read the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the William King House, also known as the Stone House, located in Bath’s north end.

Contact the History Room to purchase a copy of Bath Historical Society’s 2020 Calendar, which commemorates the bicentennial of the state of Maine (with many more stories about William King in Bath).

[1] Marion Jaques Smith, General William King: Merchant, Shipbuilder, and Maine’s First Governor, Camden, Me. : Downeast Books, 1980, 91.

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