(1768 - 1852)
Though when compared to his half-brother Rufus, a Congressman and participant in the U.S. Constitutional Convention, William was uneducated, he grew up to become a successful and influential politician. King was born the son of a wealthy merchant, but his father Richard died when William was a young boy, so William had to leave his boarding school, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, at the age of thirteen. He went to work in sawmills in Saco and Topsham, Maine. Eventually, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish a lucrative shipbuilding and shipping business in Bath. King organized Bath's first bank, helped fund Maine's first cotton mill in Brunswick in 1809, and owned a great deal of real estate, including Kingfield, Maine. King served on the Massachusetts General Court for several years, first as representative of Topsham and Bath, and later as senator for Lincoln County. King won his popularity through his tireless work toward Maine's separation from Massachusetts. He campaigned, wrote letters and editorials, and helped fund The Eastern Argus, a newspaper devoted to the separation cause. King won the governor's seat in 1820 by a landslide: 21,083 out of 22,014 votes. His popularity in Maine won him the title of the "Sultan."
Source: Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. X. ed. Allen Johnson. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons. 1929. Image courtesy Maine Historical Society.