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KING Govenor Austin Augustus

Male 1802 - 1870


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  • Name  KING Govenor Austin Augustus 
    Title  Govenor 
    Born  21 Sep 1802  Sullivan County, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender  Male 
    _UID  986E317FA8138146982303F31A91C71E7991 
    Died  22 Apr 1870  St. Louis City, St. Louis, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried  Richmond Cemetery, Richmond, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I919  Ancestors of Catherine Yvonne King | The Ancestors of Catherine King from the Virginia King Family of Stafford and Louisa County, Virginia
    Last Modified  24 Jun 2004 

    Father  KING Walter,   b. 1764, Louisa County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Oct 1830, Roane County, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  SEVIER Nancy " Patsy ",   b. 1780, Washington County, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Nov 1825, Roane County, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  19 Feb 1795  Washington Co., NC now Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F305  Group Sheet

    Family 1  WOODSON Martha Anthony,   b. 1825, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1885, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. KING Nancy " Nannie ",   b. 1860, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1861
     2. KING Mary Belle,   b. 1862, Ray, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1942, California Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F378  Group Sheet

    Family 2  ROBERTS Nancy Harris,   b. 1806, Nelson, Mecklenberg, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1857, Ray, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  1828  Madison, Davidson Co., Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Children 
     1. KING Henry
     2. KING Walter,   b. 1829, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1885, St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. KING Frances,   b. 30 Nov 1830, Knoxville, Sullivan, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1909, St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     4. KING William Augustus,   b. 21 Mar 1832, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1915, Tarrant County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location
     5. KING Edward Livingston,   b. Apr 1834, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1909, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. KING Melvina Elizabeth,   b. 1836, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. KING Thomas Benton,   b. 12 Apr 1838, Richmond, Ray County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Dec 1931, Stephenville, Erath County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location
     8. KING Austin Augustus, Jr.,   b. 5 Dec 1841, Ray County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1886
     9. KING Nannie,   b. 1860, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1861, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
    >10. KING Mary Belle,   b. 9 Jan 1862, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F377  Group Sheet

    Family 3  ROBERTS Nancy Harris,   b. 1806, Nelson Co., Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1857 
    Married  Abt 1828 
    Children 
     1. KING Henry
     2. KING Walter,   b. 1829, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1855
     3. KING Frances,   b. 30 Nov 1830, Knoxville, Sullivan, Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1909
     4. KING William Augustus,   b. 21 Mar 1832, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1915
     5. KING Edward Livingston,   b. Apr 1834, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. KING Melvina Elizabeth,   b. Abt 1836, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. KING Thomas Benton,   b. 12 Apr 1838, Ray County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location
     8. KING Austin Augustus, Jr.,   b. 5 Dec 1841, Ray County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1886
    Family ID  F380  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • SOURCE NOTES FOR AUSTIN AUGUSTUS KING: BY North Todd Gentry in " The Messages and Proclamations of the Govenors of the State of Missouri, beginning page # 263.

      Austin Augustus King was born in Washington County, Tennessee, on September 21, 1802, educated in the common schools of that county, read law in a country law office, and practiced for a while in Jackson, Tennessee. he came directly from Jackson to Columbia, Missouri, and he must have made this move in 1830.

      From the time he came to Missouri, Mr. King was a Benton-Democrat, and he became prominent as a political and civic leader almost on his arrival. On July 4, 1831, Mr. King was a speaker at a celebration near Columbia. In 1834 and 1836, Mr. King was elected one of the representatives from Boone County, and Boone was a Whig county. In Columbia, he formed a partnership with John B. Gordon; and he and Mr. Gordon ran against each other twice for the legislature, while
      partners. While in Columbia, Mr. King was associated with the noted lawyers of Missouri; and with them, he " rode the
      circuit " in company with Judge David Todd, the pioneer jurist.

      Mr. King took part in the Black Hawk Indian War and was Colonel of the Missouri Troops. In this war, he met Captain
      Abraham Lincoln, of the Illinois division, and they worked together for their country; and later, he and Lincoln worked together for the same country during the trying times of 1863-65.

      In 1837, Colonel King moved to near Richmond, Missouri, and was that year appointed judge of that circuit. On July 4, 1843, the county-seat of Caldwell County was laid out, and named Kingston, in honor of Judge King. In his speech on that occasion, Judge King gave his ideas of what Missouri could and would become; and his words now seem prophetic. Judge King not only held the first term Circuit Court in Caldwell county, but he held the first term in Harrison, Davies, Livingston, DeKalb, Platte and Buchanan counties.

      Austin A. King was elected Govenor of Missouri in 1848, He ran against his old friend and former fellow-townsman, Major James S. Rollins, a Whig nominee. Many years after, in speaking of that race,
      Major Rollins said,
      " The relations between us were very cordial; both of us had served under General Richard Gentry, in the Black Hawk Indian War. During the campaign Colonel King and I would ride together on horse back along the same road, stop at the same tavern and often sleep in the same bed. Colonel King was a Methodist, and had the benefit of the Methodist preacher to be found in nearly every town, with whom he made it a point to get acquainted."

      The inaugural address of Govenor King is interesting, especially as it is free from egotism. He said,
      " I acknowledge a conscious want of experience, and of that high order of qualifications, requisite for a satisfactory discharge of the complicated duties. I enter upon the discharge of the duties of this important trust with a firm reliance upon that Being, who, in all ages of the world, hath inclined the hearts of men to virtuous actions, and strengthened their hands to meet the responsibilities of their various positions; looking to Him to overrule all errors, and give efficiency to all efforts for the public good."

      In his inaugural, he also advocated internal improvements, the building of rail roads, turnpike roads, plank roads and toll bridges, also the organizing of fire and life insurance companies, the draining of
      swamp lands, the betterment of farm conditions, the encouragement of factories and the extension of trade and commerce. He urged the importance of a state geological survey, the opening up of the vast mineral in southwest and southeast Missouri, and the improvement of river transportation. On the subject of education, he said,
      " The State University should be the pride of the state. All of us feel the importance of encouraging the common schools, which are the great magazines and store houses whence education is diffused among the masses. A Normal department should be established in connection with the State University, in which competent instructors may be prepared for the common schools of Missouri. Let Western Universities educate teachers for the West."

      But in speaking of certain reforms and the passage of too many laws, Govenor King said, " That people
      be governed best, which is governed least ."
      And in commenting on the various internal improvements, he cautioned the law-makers to avoid the evils into which many sister states had fallen; and closed with this admonition,
      " Sound policy dictates the rejection of any scheme to burthen the state with a heavy debt, or to impair it 's credit."

      In 1849, the Missouri legislature passes a fugitive slave law, but Govenor King vetoed it, for the reason that it was unconstitutional, as congress alone had power to enact such a law. In concluding his veto, Govenor King said, " If, however, it shall suit the views of the legislature that it shall become a law, according to the forms of the constitution notwithstanding, I shall ever be ready to accord to its members that high consideration and purity of purpose which I am sure will govern them in their action. And, as far as may be in the power of the executive, the duties enjoined on him by the law, shall be faithfully performed."

      During the same legislature, Governor King addressed that body and enclosed certain slavery resolutions, adopted by the Florida legislature. In his message, Govenor King said, " The subject to which they refer is one full of interest and importance. An investigation of the difficulties that surround this momentous and exciting question, naturally leads us to the apprehension of danger for the permanency of our Union-a danger that can be best avoided by a calm and deliberate consideration of our rights as a sovereign state. We confidently believe, however, that by the exercise of that same spirit and patriotism which has hitherto given direction to the public will, and has thus far enabled us to resist the dangers from without and within, which have threatened our glorious Union, we will be enabled again to dissipate the portentious cloud now silently accumulating, and threatening to burst hereafter with most astonishing effect. By doing so, we will show to the lovers of freedom everywhere how strong are the ties which unite us together in the bonds of a common Union."

      In 1849, the Missouri legislature, over Govenor King's protest, attempted to instruct Senator Thomas H. Benton how he should vote on the questions of nullification and the extention of slavery; but Benton gave that body to understand that he would not be instructed. He appealed to the people of Missouri, and the result was one of the greatest and one of the warmest political campaigns ever witnessed in our state or nation; and it occured in an " off year." It was with the greatest difficulty that Govenor King
      maintained order at some of the political gatherings.

      And during the King administration, Missouri suffered from Cholera-Attoney General William A. Robards, being one of the victims. This necessitated strict sanitary measures, and Govenor King was equal to that emergency. In one of his messages, Govenor King recommended the equipment of a hospital in the penitentiary, and the improvements of the sanitary conditions in the shop and cell buildings; although at the time there were only two hundred prisoners confined there.

      Govenor King advocated the enactment of a premption law, a homestead exemption law, a law pensioning soldiers of the war of 1812 and teamsters in the Mexican War. He was the author of the Missouri Code of Civil Procedure, which was passed in 1849, and he favored other constructive and progressive legislation. He secured the passage of legislative acts for the construction of a wire suspension bridge across the Mississippi river at St. Louis, and acts amending the charters and enlarging the powers of various municipalities. And statutes were passed organizing and naming the counties of McDonald, Dodge ( now part of Putnam), Laclede, VanBuren ( afterwards Cass ), Dent, Stone, Vernon, Pemiscot, and Bollinger. And in 1851, a reform school for boys in St. Louis was chartered, the first step taken by our state in the aid of juvenile offenders. In one of his messages, Govenor King recommended the establishment of a state asylum for the insane, a state school for the deaf and dumb, and a state home for the blind; and he secured the passage of acts for those institutions and liberal appropriations for the erection of buildings therefor. During his administration, the general assembly passed acts providing for various mill dams, incorporating schools, academies, library associations, reading rooms, orphans' homes, horticultural societies, and the Athenean Society of the Missouri University. Mining companies, canal companies, navagation companies, fire fighting companies, turnpike road and bridge companies were chartered; and on March 7,1849, a special
      charter was granted to the progressive citizens of Howard, Boone, Callaway, Montgomery, Warren, and St. Charles counties, authorizing the construction of a toll road from Glasgow to Fayette, Rocheport, Columbia, Fulton, Danville, Warrenton and St. Charles, to be known as " Boonslick Turnpike Company." This is practically along the line of the now much talked of " Old Trails Road".

      Govenor King called the legislature in special sessions in August 1852, to take the necessary action regarding the Federal grant of lands to the state, to aid in the construction of railroads. But the legislature got into a wrangle over the slavery question, and remained in session from August till December 25, just two days before the beginning of the next regular session. However, by the use of the greatest diplomacy, Govenor King secured the passage of acts granting charters and aid to the Pacific Railroad, ( now Missouri Pacific ), North Missouri railroad ( now Wabash ), Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad, Iron Mountain Railroad, Southwest Branch ( now Frisco ); and to some shorter lines, such as Independence and Missouri River railroad. In the act regarding the last named road, it is provided,
      " The company shall have the authority to erect at Independence a warehouse, which shall be used for the purpose of storing Santa Fe and other goods, which may be transported by railroad, which shall be so constructed as to facilitate the loading of wagons, for the purpose of encouraging trade."
      And the legislature, with his approval, passed acts chartering religious bodies and organizing two temperance societies, and at the same time an " act to promote the growing of wines in Gascnade County."

      While in office, Govenor King was a witness and testified for the famous damage suit of James H. Birch
      -vs- Thomas H. Benton, in which it was claimed that Benton called Birch a " whining cur." But in spite of plague, excitments, and state and national differences, and especially the differences in his own
      political party and to his adopted state; indeed his record places him ahead of his time.

      Just before his gubernatorial term ended, Govenor King entered the race for Congress in the Ray County district, of course as a Benton-Democrat, but he was defeated; and two years later, 1854, he was the candidate of the Benton-Democrats for the legislature in Ray county, but was defeated by a small majority.

      In 1860, Govenor King was a follower of Stephen A. Douglass; and during the Civil War, he was an uncompromising Union man. In the midst of the war, 1862, Govenor King was elected to Congress as a Union Democrat; and, with his former opponent, Major James S. Rollins, stood by President Lincoln, and rendered the country the greatest service.

      Austin A. King was a staunch advocate of higher education, and showed his interest in that cause many times. In 1833, he was secretary of the Boone county meeting that established Columbia College, which has been well termed, " The seed from which grew the State University." And during the same year, he assisted in organizing the Columbia Female Academy, one of the first institutions of learning for young women in the state. Colonel King, Dr. William Jewell, Reverend Moses U. Payne, and Roger North Todd were it's first trustees. This academy was the forerunner of Stephens College and Christian College. In 1851, the people of Richmond tried to secure the locaiton of Westminster College, and Govenor King was one of it's trustees. He was also a member of the school board of his home; and one of the public schools of Ray county is located on ground where Govenor King once lived, and is known as the " King School." As govenor, he recommended the establishment of a seperate department for education, the official to be known as state superintendent of schools, also a county board of three men in every school district, and the permanent endowment of the state university. The advocacy of such valuable educational legislation places Govenor King in the front rank of executives of this or any other state.

      Govenor King was a man of convictions, yet he never harbored personal spite against his political opponents. Although the race between Rollins and King 1848 was a lively one; yet in 1858 King and his sons volted for Rollins, again the Whig nominee for Govenor, in preference to Robert M. Stewart, the Democratic nominee. Govenor King said that he did this because Major Rollins advocated measures approved by him; and he voted for measures rather than men.

      Although a life long slave holder, Govenor King opposed Missourians taking part in the Kansas election, when the Lecompton Constitution was an issue; yet he knew that the admission of Kansas as a state would be a serious blow to slavery. When he was convinced that slavery was wrong, he was one of the few Democrats in congress who voted in February 1865, for the constitutional amendment
      abolishing slavery; though he knew at that time, and so wrote to his son Thomas Benton King, that such a vote was going to cost him his political life, as his district was overwhelmingly pro-slavery.

      The Missouri Republican, afterwards St. Louis Republic, says that Govenor King went to St. Louis in April,1870 ( and his son Thomas corroborates the statement ) to take part in the last one of the Civil War cases, the case of Joseph A. Berry vs Thomas C. Fletcher and Bacon Montgomery, a suit for fifty
      thousand dollars damages in the U.S. Circuit Court. Mr. Berry was editing the Missouri Freeman in
      Richmond, in November 1866 when he claimed that Govenor Thomas C. Fletcher ordered the Missouri Militia, under General Bacon Montgomery, to arrest him; and, in doing so, wrecked his priniting establishment and insulted him. Messrs. John R. Shepley and t.T. Gantt were associated with Govenor King in behalf of the plaintiff, and General John W. Noble and Chas P. Johnson represented the defendants-a brilliant array of Missouri lawyers. The court records show that the jury decided in favor of Govenor Fletcher, but against General Montgomery in the sum of fifty thousand dollars. At the conclusion of an able argument in that case, Govenor King was taken ill, and carried to his room in a hotel in St. Louis, where he lingered for six days and died on April 22nd, 1870. Accompanied by many friends in St. Louis and vicinity, the remains of Govenor King wer carried on a special train on the North Missouri Railroad ( a road that he had done so much to promote ) to his Ray county home, where an appropriate funeral service was held, and the burial was on his own farm. Later, his body was removed to the Richmond cemetery, which is one mile and a half from his county home.

      In 1903, the Missouri general assembly appropriated fifteen hundred dollars to erect a monument over the grave of Govenor King; and that handsome shaft stands today a slight token of the appreciation of the people of Missouri of an illustrious son, who, as a private citizen as well as a public official, was active, honorable and fearless, and who did a great work for our state and our nation. Certainly his independence of thought and action, and his constant desire to do the right thing are worthy of imitation by the sons and daughters of our great commonwealth.

      ** Richmond, County Seat of Ray County, Missouri
      The Richmond Cemetery, N. Thornton Street., 4 blocks northwest of the courthouse, contains the
      grave of Austin Augustus King, Govenor of Missouri: 1848-1849.

  • Sources 
    1. [S70] Messages and Proclamations of the Govenors of the State of Missouri, Volume II, Buel Leopard and Floyd C. Shumaker, (State Historical Society of Missouri), 263, 1922.

    2. [S14] The Limbs and Branches of the Smith Family Tree, Terry D. & Cathleen Smith, (WorldConnect.Com ).