Governor Samuel Cony


A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.

Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher

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SAMUEL CONY was born in Augusta, February 27, 1811. His father was Gee. Samuel Cony, who was born in Massachusetts in 1775, and his grandfather was Lieut. Samuel Cony, who was thirty-one years old when he with his father, Dea. Samuel Cony, moved to Maine. Deacon Samuel was born in Boston, 1718, and in 1777 moved from Shutesbury, Mass., to the Fort Weston settlement in the town of Hallowell, now comprised in Augusta. All the Conys from Deacon Samuel down to and including the Governor, Samuel, were men of great natural ability and strength of character. Dea. Samuel Cony's second son was Daniel, who was born in 1752, and therefore about twenty-five years of age when he came to Augusta with his father. He served with distinction in the Revolutionary War and was promoted for bravery. After coming to Maine he was a physician; with a very extensive practice in Augusta and the surrounding country. He represented his town in the General Court of Massachusetts, and was also a Senator and a member of the Executive Council. He was an elector when George Washington was chosen to his second term of office as President; was ninety years old when he died.

Gen. Samuel Cony was a merchant at Wiscasset and Augusta. He was the first Adjutant-General of Maine and held the office ten years. He also represented Augusta in the General Court. Both he and his wife were noted for their fine personal appearance. He married his cousin, Susan Bowdoin, a daughter of Hon. Daniel Cony, and mother of Governor Cony.

Samuel Cony received his early education in the town school, by private tutors, and at China Academy. He received his collegiate education at Brown University, from which he graduated in 1829. After leaving college he studied law with Hon. Hiram Belcher, of Farmington, and also with his uncle, Hon. Reuel Williams of Augusta.

He was admitted to the Bar in 1832 and opened an office in Oldtown, Me. Here his political career began. When he was but twenty-four years old he was a Representative in the State Legislature, and at twenty-eight was a member of the Executive Council. He was appointed Judge of Probate for Penobscot County in 1840, holding that office several years. In 1847 he was made Land Agent of the State, which position he held three years. In 1850 he was elected Treasurer of State, and re-elected five consecutive years, which was the constitutional limit. On assuming the duties of this office he removed to Augusta, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. He was Mayor of the city in 1854.

Mr. Cony was a Democrat, and when the war broke out he became a "War Democrat," giving his hearty support to every measure calculated to crush the rebellion. The preservation of the Union became his ruling passion. In 1862 he was sent to the Legislature from Augusta, where he was foremost in voting men and money to sustain the Union forces.

In 1863 he was nominated by the Republican party as their candidate for Governor, to succeed Governor Coburn, who had made a great record as a "War Governor," and he was elected by about eighteen thousand majority over Hon. Bion Eradbury, the Democratic candidate, who carried the Democratic vote that year up to fifty thousand. Coburn and Washburn, men of great ability, who had worked unceasingly to support the armies in the field by new recruits and supplies, were his immediate predecessors, and to maintain the record they had made was no small task. But Governor Cony was equal to every occasion. He carried into his great work a strong mind and a loyal, patriotic heart. Every call of the President for troops was promptly answered, officers were selected with the sole view of their fitness to command, while the welfare of the men from Maine at the front was his great care.

Three times he was elected Governor. In the inaugural address at the opening of the Legislature in January, 1866, he notified the people that he would not accept another nomination, in these words: "At the close of the present year my connection with public affairs will cease, and I shall most gladly return to that retirement from which I was originally so unexpectedly called." Maine sent to the front 71,558 men. There were issued by the Executive of the State 4,295 commissions, of which number Governor Cony signed about fourteen hundred. The war was then closed. In it Maine bad taken a noble part, and it is not too much to say that it was largely to Governor Cony's great patriotism and unceasing efforts in behalf of the Union cause that so bright a lustre rests upon the name of our fair State. His time, strength, and means were given freely, and he well earned the hearty praise so justly bestowed upon him and his work by the Secretary of War.

Governor Cony was a man of fine personal appearance, and was possessed with a warm and genial nature, which attached him to all he came in contact with. His convictions were strong, his perceptions were almost intuitive, his impulses were generous, and his sympathies were tender. He was liberal and hospitable, and his home was always open to his friends. His last few years were serenely spent in the enjoyment of his books and in the contemplation of patriotic duty well done. He passed away October 5, 1870.

Samuel Cony was twice married. October 17, 1833, he married Mercy H. Sewall of Farmington. She died April 9, 1847, and on November 22, 1849, he married Lucy W. Brooks of Augusta. He left six children, two sons and a danghter by his first marriage and two daughters and a son by the last marriage.

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