John A. King

20th Governor, 1857 - 1858
John A. King

John A. King (1788–1867) fought in the War of 1812 as a cavalry lieutenant and was a farmer at his family homestead in Jamaica, Queens, before embarking upon a long political career. King was New York’s first Republican governor. He advocated for the improvement of schools and voting rights for African-Americans. King also completed several public works projects, including the expansion of the Erie Canal. He was a member of the 1861 peace convention that met in Washington, D.C. to propose compromise measures to prevent civil war.
Painted portrait of John H. King.
About the Artist


Robert Cutler Hinckley (1853–1941) was born in Boston, studied art in Paris, and established a studio in Washington, D.C. His painting, “The First Operation Under Ether,” is renowned worldwide as one of the best early depictions of surgery.


open full portrait view

From The Encyclopedia of New York State

King, John A(lsop) (b New York City, 3 Jan 1788; d Jamaica, Queens Co, 7 July 1867). Governor and US representative.

He was educated in Europe while his father, Rufus King, served as US minister to Great Britain. He served as a lieutenant of cavalry during the War of 1812. He relocated to Jamaica after the war and farmed before undertaking decades of political service, including six terms as assemblyman (1819–21, 1832, 1838, 1840) and one as state senator (1823); he also held diplomatic positions (1825) with his father in Great Britain. King was elected as a Whig to Congress (1849–50), where he opposed the Fugitive Slave Act. After the dissolution of the Whigs, he served as New York State’s first Republican governor (1857–58). While in office, he advocated for revision of the existing excise law, popular education initiatives, increased voting rights for Blacks, and the completion of public works projects. Declining renomination to a second term, he retired to his Jamaica farm.


Alexander, DeAlva Stanwood. A Political History of the State of New York, 4 vols (1906; repr Port Washington, NY: I. J. Friedman, 1969)

John Marino


Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 837].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.