Governor William George Crosby


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

WILLIAM GEORGE CROSBY was a son of Judge William Crosby, an eminent lawyer, who resided in Belfast, Me., from 1802 until his death, fifty years after. His mother was Sally, daughter of Benjamin Davis, whose long and useful life closed in 1877, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. Both parents were natives of Billerica, Mass., descendants of early settlers of that town.

After completing his preparatory studies at Belfast Academy he entered Bowdoin College, where he was graduated in 1823, a few days before he was eighteen years old, being the first person born in Belfast who received a college education. The roll of his contemporaries contains the names of Franklin Pierce, William Pitt Fessenden, Henry W. Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chief Justice Appleton, Prof. William Smyth, Professor Stowe, Sargent S. Prentiss, John S. C. Abbott, and others who have acquired more than local distinction. Mr. Crosby's commencement part was a poem on "The Enthusiasm of Genius." The whispering pines of Brunswick seem to have infused a taste for poetry in many of the young men assembled there, and with him continued after he left the scene of inspiration. He frequently contributed poetical pieces for the newspapers, many of which have been reprinted in more permanent form.

After completing a course of legal studies with his father he practiced law in Boston for two years. In 1828 he returned to Belfast and became permanently established there.

Mr. Crosby was married, in 1831, to Miss Ann M., daughter of Capt. Robert Patterson, a son of one of the first settlers of Belfast. Their children who survived infancy were Ann M., married Richard Chenery; Sarah F., married John Hitchcock, of Boston; William, who resides in Belfast; George, who died February 17, 1878, aged thirty-eight; Horace, who is in business at McKeesport, Pa., and Frederick, who was killed by an accident at Syracuse, N. Y., August 21, 1878, aged thirty.

In politics Mr. Crosby was a Whig, and believed that party to be the purest and most patriotic of any organization that existed in our country. He was the Whig candidate for Congress in his district in 1838, an honor which he declined in 1840. During the latter year he participated actively in the presidential campaign, and night after night his voice was effectively heard in behalf of "Harrison and Reform." He was a delegate to the National Convention in 1844, which nominated Henry Clay, and was one of his most ardent supporters. Two years later, although the State was in the hands of his political opponents, he was chosen Secretary of the Board of Education, a department which had just been established, with a view to remedy existing defects in our common-school system. To the duties of this position he zealously devoted himself for three years, and to his recommendations we are indebted for many of the best features of our schools.

In 1850 Mr. Crosby received the nomination of his party for Governor, and in 1852 received a second nomination, and, although Belfast was then a strong Democratic town, his fellow-citizens honored him by a majority of over two hundred. The agitation of the Maine Law and Free-Soil element had divided the Democratic party, and there was no choice by the people. After a protracted contest in the Legislature he was elected Governor, and his election was repeated by the Legislature of next year. His administration was practical and acceptable, and his various appointments to office were judicious and satisfactory After the disruption of the Whig party, in 1856, Governor Crosby acted with the Democrats, although taking no prominent position in the political arena.

In most of the educational, literary, and charitable undertakings of the day he took a prominent part. He was long a member of the Unitarian Church, and a constant attendant upon public worship. He always cherished a warm interest for his Alma Mater, and for several years was connected with the government of that institution; in 1870 he received from it the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He was a member of the Maine Historical Society from 1846 to the time of his death, and an active Free Mason for nearly forty years, and twice Master of his Lodge.

In his profession his name was synonymous with probity, integrity, and uniform fairness. He appeared at the Bar rather as the defender of oppressed truth and justice, than as the indiscriminate agent of any person who might require the services of eminent legal talent.

The cultivation of his grounds and the ripening of their fruits were always to him sources of untiring recreation. He had an ardent love for nature in all her aspects. He loved the woods, the streams, the lakes, and their associations with a longing that nothing could satisfy save a visit to his congenial haunts. As he loved the woods, so he loved all things which made their homes therein, and there was no sweeter music than the low plash of the waves on the beach at his camp door.

In the home of his birth, youth, and manhood; in his library, among those mute companions which in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, had ever been a pleasure and a comfort, and surrounded by sorrowing friends, his calm and well-rounded life passed painlessly away. Governor Crosby was seventh in descent from Simon Crosby and his wife Ann, who came from Lancashire, England, in the Susan .and Ellen, in 1635, and settled in Cambridge, Mass. He was born September to, 1805, and died March 21, 1881.

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