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Army Poem. Apostrophe to the Flag .
For one who has loved, admired, and revered the subject of this sketch from earliest recollection, to write a brief biography without prejudice is not an easy matter. His life for more than fourscore years has been without spot or blemish in my sight, and, to avoid the appearance of undue partiality, I shall rely mainly upon the comments of those who knew him well and intimately, although not connected with him by ties of consanguinity.
Horatio King was the son of Samuel and Sally (Hall) King, and was born in Paris, Maine, June 21, 1811. His father was a farmer and emigrated from Massachusetts. His grandfather was George King, of Raynham, in the State last named, who, with his three brothers, served in the war for independence. George was orderly-sergeant and clerk of the Raynham Company, and one of his brothers fell in the war. Like most of the old and patriotic stock of the Revolution and their immediate descendants, these ancestral relatives of his were stanchly Democratic, which may, so far as early impressions go, account for Mr. King's political orthodoxy. Like most of the country-reared young men of that period, he was brought up on the farm and had a personal knowledge of what life upon the farm is, or rather what it was at that time, for it is somewhat different now. His poem herein, entitled “ Employment Necessary to Happiness,” may be taken as descriptive in no slight degree of his farm life.
In the ordinary acceptance of that term, Mr. King was
not liberally educated, though he supplemented by careful study and voluminous reading and research the education which the common schools afforded. To a strongly practical training he added by his own exertions unusual literary culture, acquiring among other accomplishments a good knowledge of the French language, which aided him greatly in his subsequent official career.
The whole course of his education, meaning by that word the training of mind and body to the full development of their powers and usefulness, has been eminently practical. For the elementary knowledge essential or highly useful to every pursuit in life, such as reading, spelling, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and geography, there were no better schools in the world than the common schools of New England; and of these, in childhood and early youth, he enjoyed the full benefits; and for the useful concerns of life, a knowledge of human nature, of human character, and the varied transactions of human life and of our political and social conditions and institutions,-never to be learned or understood in college,-perhaps no one pursuit is so truly and widely useful as that of the printer and newspaper editor.
At an early age, in the spring of 1829, Mr. King went into the office of the Jeffersonian, a thorough Jackson Democratic paper, then published in his native town, for the purpose of acquiring an expert knowledge of the printing business and to befit himself to conduct the paper, in case he should like the business well enough to purchase the establishment. After being in the office about a year he became connected with the paper as one of its proprietors, and six months after became sole proprietor, being then about nineteen years of age, employing a village lawyer, at a salary of twelve York shillings a week, to assist him in editing the sheet. In 1832 he cast his first vote for General Jackson, and shortly afterwards assumed the entire editorial management of his paper. Its files show him to have been consistent and earnest in his denunciation of South Carolina nullification, and throughout General Jackson's administration the Jeffersonian firmly, consistently, and energetically supported the Old Hero; and when Mr. Van Buren was, by the refusal of the Senate to confirm his nomination, recalled from England, where, during the recess, the President had sent him as minister, the Jeffersonian was among the first papers in the country to run up his name for the Presidency.
In 1833 the unfortunate division of the Democracy of Maine took place, and Mr. King was induced to remove his press to Portland in May of that year. The consequence was a sharp family quarrel on State and local matters, which lasted two or three years, when many of his principal competitors, with their journalists at their head, went over bodily to the enemy. From first to last Mr. King has combated with like zeal every scheme which looked towards disunion.
He continued to edit the Jeffersonian until 1838, when he sold the paper to the Standard, which was soon after merged in the Eastern Argus, and may be said to “ still live” in the columns of that stanch advocate of Democratic principles. This terminated his professional connection with the public press.
But if anything more were wanting to complete Mr. King's practical education and his knowledge of business and of human nature, what better school could have been found than that which he enjoyed in his twenty-two years' connection with all the various concerns and operations of the Post-Office Department? There, if anywhere, the whole lesson was presented, and by a careful, diligent, and intelligent observer could be thoroughly learned. And in that school, as was proved by his successive promotions, and especially by his eminent fitness for and usefulness in the responsible and important positions which he occupied, he was neither an indifferent nor an unsuccessful student. Gifted with a clear head, a quick perception, and indomitable industry, coupled with a firm resolution to know thoroughly whatever his actual business or pursuit rendered