Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Austin Augustus King, 1848-1853

Missouri State Archives
Austin Augustus King, 1848-1853

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Austin Augustus King was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee on September 21, 1802 to Walter and Nancy Sevier King, daughter of John Sevier, the first Governor of Tennessee. King attended public schools in Tennessee, studied law, and was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1822. King married Nancy Harris Roberts (1806-1857) in 1827 and moved to Columbia, Missouri in 1830 where King started a law office with John B. Gordon. Following service during the Black Hawk Indian War in 1832, King represented Boone County in the Missouri General Assembly from 1834 to 1837. He served as Missouri Fifth Circuit judge from 1837 to 1848. King presided at the hearing of Mormon leader Joseph Smith and others for treason, murder and additional crimes in 1838 in Ray County, Missouri. Smith and nine others were held over for trial but later escaped. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1844 but won the nomination in 1848. King was sworn in as Missouriís tenth governor on November 28, 1848. During his administration, bonds were issued to the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and to the Pacific Railroad Company to finance railroad construction. A state reform school was established in St. Louis in 1850 and in 1851, a deaf and dumb asylum was started in Fulton. Although a slave owner, King as governor vetoed the Missouri fugitive slave law as unconstitutional. After leaving office, King attended the 1855 Missouri Slave Owners Convention in Lexington, Missouri but opposed Missourians crossing over state lines to vote on the pro-slavery Kansas Lecompton Constitution. When the Civil War started, he elected to stay with the Union. King served as a Union Democrat in the 38th U. S. Congress from 1863 to 1865. When his bid for reelection failed, King resumed his law practice. Austin Augustus King collapsed in a St. Louis courtroom and died on April 22, 1870. He is buried in Richmond Cemetery, Ray County, Missouri.

The Collection

The records (1848-1853) of Governor Austin Augustus King (1802-1870) include affidavits, certifications, the constitution of the Missouri Institution for the Blind, correspondence, construction bids and agreements for the second State Capitol building, court proceedings, newspaper clippings, petitions, reports, state bonds, telegrams, and writs of election.

Rights and Reproductions

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred citation: [Item description], [date]; Austin Augustus King, 1848-1853; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.10; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

How to Use this Collection

All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Supreme Court). State Representatives are referred to as Representative. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressman. All scanned images are the best available.

Related sources

The collection finding aid provides information pertaining to additional King material held by Ellis Library, University of Missouri, Columbia and the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.

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