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 Edward Kavanagh

Edward Kavanagh

DATE OF BIRTH:  April 27, 1795
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Newcastle
DATE OF DEATH:  January 21, 1844
PLACE OF DEATH:  Newcastle
TERM IN OFFICE:  March 7, 1843 – January 1, 1844

QUOTE: Perhaps the brightest spot on the escutcheon of his public life was his influence and agency as one of the Commissioners of Maine in paving the way for the late important Treaty with Great Britain, by which agency and influence, the boundary between this State and her Majesty’s Dominions is permanently and clearly established.

The Brunswicker, February 22, 1844

OTHER ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICES: State Representative, Secretary of the Maine Senate, Congressman, Charge d’Affairs to Portugal, State Senator (Senate President), Chair of the Joint Select Committee on the Maine Boundary


Beale, Howard K.  “Edward Kavanagh,” Dictionary of American Biography.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933, Vol. 10, pp. 264-265.

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

“Governor Edward Kavanagh,” Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder.  Bangor, July, 1898, pp. 193-196.

Hawes, Edward L.  “Edward Kavanagh,” American National Biography.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, Vol. 12, pp. 407-408.

“Hon. Edward Kavanagh,” The Brunswicker, February 22, 1844, p. 1.

Lucey, William Leo.  Edward Kavanagh.  Francestown, New Hampshire: Marshall Jones Company, 1946.

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