King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864

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Thomas Butler King, legislator, planter, and politician, was born August 27, 1800, in Palmer, Massachusetts, and died May 10, 1864, in Waynesboro, Georgia. He migrated to Glynn County, Georgia (1820s), married Anna Matilda Page of St. Simons Island (1824), and had three prosperous plantations by the mid 1830s. King was elected a Georgia senator from Glynn County (1832, 1859), and a United States Congressman (1838, 1840, 1844, 1846); was sent to California by President Taylor to urge the formation of a state government for entrance to the Union (1849); and was appointed commissioner from Georgia to Europe (1860-1862).

From the description of T. Butler King papers, 1845-1851. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 173862958

Thomas Butler King of Retreat Plantation, Saint Simons Island, Ga., was a Georgia and United States legislator, collector of the port of San Francisco, and Georgia representative to various courts in Europe during the Civil War, with special interests in internal improvements and naval affairs.

From the description of T. Butler King papers, 1763-1868, 2003 (bulk 1835-1868). WorldCat record id: 15802730

American politician.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : "House of Representatives", to Gales & Seaton, 1840 Feb. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270487407

Thomas Butler King (1800-1864), planter, lawyer, and politician, resided mainly in Glynn County, Georgia.

From the description of Thomas Butler King papers, 1827-1840. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 38476993

U.S. representative of Georgia.

From the description of Letter of T. Butler King, 1850. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71009940

Thomas Butler King (1800-1864) was a lawyer, statesman, and diplomat. He married Anna Matilda (Page) King (1798-1859), the daughter of Major William Page of Retreat plantation, St. Simons Island. They had five sons: Thomas Butler King, Jr. (1829-1859), called "Butler;" Henry Lord Page King (1831-1862), called "Lord" or "Lordy," a young lawyer who was killed at Fredericksburg, Virginia; John Floyd King (1841-1915), called Floyd, a planter, Brigadier-General in the Confederate States Army and a member of Congress from Louisiana; Mallery Page King (1836-1899), a colonel in the Confederate States Army; and Richard Cuyler King. Thomas Butler King also had 2 daughters: Florence Barclay King (1836-1912), who married Henry Rootes Jackson (1820-1898), a lawyer, statesman, Confederate States Army officer, and diplomat; Georgia Page King Wilder (1833-1914), who married, first, Gen. William Duncan Smith (1826-1862), and second, Joseph John Wilder (1844-1900). John Randolph Wilder (1816-1879) and his son, Joseph John Wilder were successful cotton merchants and were prominent in civil and social affairs in Savannah. J.J. Wilder was a student in Germany during most of the Civil War. Anna Page Wilder (1873-1956), daughter of Georgia Page King and Joseph John Wilder, married Jefferson Randolph Anderson. Anderson was a descendant of the Wayne, Stites, and Anderson families.

From the description of King and Wilder families papers, 1817-1946. (Georgia Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 85845132

  • 27 August 1800: Born in Palmer, Mass., the son of Daniel and Hannah Lord King.
  • 1800 - 1820 : Attended Westfield Academy in Westfield, Mass.; moved to live with relatives in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania at age 15 following the death of his parents; studied law with Judge Garrick Mallery in Wilkes-Barre, and with his own brother Henry in Allentown, Pa.
  • 1820: Stephen Clay King, another brother, married Mary Fort, the daughter of a wealthy cotton planter of Wayne County, Ga. Stephen eventually became a large-scale planter in Georgia.
  • 1823: Migrated to southeastern Georgia.
  • 1824: Married Anna Matilda Page of Retreat Plantation, Saint Simons Island, Ga., the daughter of William Page, a South Carolinian who had purchased Retreat in 1804.
  • 1824 - 1826 : Deaths of Anna Matilda King's parents and her inheritance of a large estate. She and King made their home at Retreat.
  • 1830s: King led the movement to improve and promote the port at Brunswick, Ga.
  • 1832: Elected to the Georgia legislature as senator from Glynn County (Brunswick).
  • 1832 - 1836 : Served in Georgia legislature, championed the cause of states' rights, and pushed for bills related to his internal improvement ventures.
  • 1836: Decided against a re-election bid for the Georgia legislature in order to seek New England capital for his Brunswick projects, then ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the United States House of Representatives.
  • 1837: Elected to the Georgia legislature where he promoted internal improvement measures, especially state credit to private companies.
  • 1838: Elected to the United States House as states rights candidate.
  • 1839 - 1843 : Served in the United States House, aligned himself with the Whig party, proposed establishing a Home Squadron by the Navy (bill passed July 1841), and suffered serious financial setbacks to his plans for the port at Brunswick.
  • 1842: Lost bid for re-election to the House.
  • 1844: Served as chair of the Whig committee in Georgia; accompanied Henry Clay on the latter's tour through Georgia; spoke at Whig rallies in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and defeated the Democratic nominee, Charles Spaulding, for the congressional seat from Georgia's First District.
  • 6 January 1845: Fought a duel with Charles Spaulding on Amelia Island, Florida Territory.
  • 15 January 1845: Witnessed the marriage of his daughter Hannah to William Audley Couper, a member of one of the most prominent families of Georgia's Golden Isles.
  • 1845 - 1846 : Recommended numerous naval improvement bills from his position on the naval affairs committee.
  • 1846: Defeated Democratic candidate Solomon Cohen for Georgia's First Congressional District seat.
  • 1847: Made chair of the House Committee on Naval Affairs.
  • 1848: Helped nominate Zachary Taylor as the Whig candidate for president and defeated the Democratic candidate, Joseph W. Jackson, in Georgia's First Congressional District race.
  • 16 January 1849: Proposed a detailed report recommending the construction of a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama.
  • March 1849: Thwarted in his efforts to become secretary of the Navy under Taylor.
  • May 1849: Appointed as Taylor's special agent to California.
  • 4 June 1849: Toured the mining districts of California.
  • 1 January 1850: Per private instructions from Taylor, set up a law office in San Francisco and failed in his bid to become a senator from California.
  • February 1850: Arrived in New York from California.
  • October 1850: Appointed collector of the port of San Francisco by President Millard Fillmore.
  • 1851 - 1852 : Worked as collector of the port of San Francisco and failed in his quest to become a senator from California.
  • 1852: Resigned the collectorship at San Francisco.
  • 1853 - 1858 : Promoted, financed, and lobbied for a transcontinental railroad through Texas.
  • 1856: Attended the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati
  • 1859: Suffered the deaths of his wife and oldest son, lost his bid to become the Democratic nominee from Georgia's First Congressional District, but was elected as a senator to the Georgia legislature.
  • 1860: Attended the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, S.C., as a lobbyist for the revived transcontinental railroad and the recently formed Macon and Brunswick Railroad.
  • 1861 - 1862 : Represented the state of Georgia at various courts in Europe.
  • 1863: Defeated by Savannahian Julian Hartridge for Georgia's First Congressional District seat.
  • 10 May 1864: Died in Waresboro, Ga.

King's wife, Anna Matilda (Page), was the only child and heir of William Page, a native of South Carolina who had purchased Retreat plantation on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, early in the 19th century. Anna Matilda and most of the ten King children remained at Retreat while King was active elsewhere. Although an overseer or one of the sons supervised the actual plantation work, Anna Matilda managed most of the family affairs and finances. She died in 1859.

The Kings had ten children, including William, who died at age six. The others were: Hannah Page (Tootee); Thomas Butler, Jr. (Butler or Buttie); Henry Lord Page (Lordy); Georgia (Josey); Mallery Page (Mall or Pompey); Florence (Flora or Poyer); Virginia (Appie or Tommie); John Floyd (Floyd or Fuddy); and Richard Cuyler (Cuyler, Tip, Hack, Herks).

Hannah married William Audley Couper, the son of wealthy Georgia landowner James Couper and the brother of James Hamilton Couper, a pioneer in scientific farming. She and her family lived at Hamilton, a plantation adjacent to Retreat, which her husband managed for the granddaughter of James Hamilton. The Kings's oldest son, Butler, attended Franklin College in Athens, Ga.; accompanied his father to California; and managed Retreat until his sudden death in 1859. Lord attended Yale, read law, worked in an office in New York in 1860, became captain and aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Lafayette McLaws in the Confederate army, and was killed at Fredericksburg in December 1862. The King daughters, Georgia, Florence, and Virginia, remained at Retreat until 1861, when the war drove them inland. Saint Simons was occupied by the United States Army and the Freedman's Bureau, and the Kings were unable to return home until the late 1860s. Early in the war, Georgia married William Duncan Smith, a Confederate major, later general, who died in 1862; after the war, she married Joseph Wilder. Florence married Henry Rootes Jackson, and Virginia married John Nisbet.

Mallery followed Butler as manager of the family plantation. He became a Confederate officer, served in Georgia and South Carolina, and married Eugenia (Jenny) Grant. Another son, Floyd, served as chief of artillery under Major General William W. Loring in western Virginia during the Civil War and then managed various plantations on the Mississippi River. In love with Lin Capterton of Elmwood, Va. (later West Virginia), Floyd wrote to her during and after the war, but they did not marry. He later became a lawyer in Louisiana and served that state in Congress, 1879-1887. The Kings's youngest son, Cuyler, attended Bloomfield Academy at Ivy Depot near Charlottesville, Va. A lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Georgia Sharpshooters, he served in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia during the war.

For more biographical information see: Series 2, folder 16; sketch of King in the Dictionary of American Biography ; sketches of King, his brother Henry, and his son Floyd in the Biographical Directory of the American Congress and Edward Marvin Steel, Thomas Butler King of Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1964).

From the guide to the T. Butler King Papers,  , 1773-1868, 2003, (bulk 1835-1868), (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf King, Thomas Butler, 1800-1864. Autograph letter signed : "House of Representatives", to Gales & Seaton, 1840 Feb. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Calhoun, James S., 1803-1852. Letters, 1850. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn John McIntosh Kell papers, 1785-1921 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn King, Anna Matilda, 1798-1859. Anna Matilda Page (Mrs. Thomas Butler) King plantation record book, 1842-1871 (bulk 1853-1864). Georgia Department of Archives and History Library
referencedIn King, Anna Matilda, 1798-1859. Anna Matilda Page (Mrs. Thomas Butler) King plantation record book, 1842-1871 (bulk 1853-1864). Georgia Department of Archives and History Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
referencedIn Kell, John McIntosh, 1823-1900. Papers, 1785-1921 and n.d. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Margaret Davis Cate Papers, 1591-1967. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864. Thomas Butler King papers, 1827-1840. Georgia Newspaper Project
referencedIn Stephens and Bancroft. Stephens and Bancroft business records, 1836-1854. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Couper, William Audley, 1817-1888. William Audley Couper papers, 1795-1955 (bulk 1850-1900). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf T. Butler King Papers,  , 1773-1868, 2003, (bulk 1835-1868) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864. King and Wilder families papers, 1817-1946. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864. T. Butler King papers, 1845-1851. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864. T. Butler King papers, 1763-1868, 2003 (bulk 1835-1868). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Stephens and Bancroft. Stephens and Bancroft business records, 1836-1854. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864. Letter of T. Butler King, 1850. Library of Congress
referencedIn Davis, Curtis Carroll, 1916-. Curtis Carroll Davis collection on William A. Caruthers, 1841-1957. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn Thomas Butler King Papers, 1835-1837, 1839. Georgia Historical Society
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 233: House Of Representatives.
creatorOf McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1863-1941. Papers of William Gibbs McAdoo, 1823-1992. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
San Francisco (Calif.)
Confederate States of America
Retreat Plantation (Ga.)
Savannah (Ga.)
United States
Retreat Plantation (Ga.)
Brunswick (Ga.)
Sapelo Island (Ga.)
Southern States
Glynn County (Ga.)
Confederate States of America
San Francisco (Calif.)
Saint Simons Island (Ga.)
Savannah (Ga.)
Saint Simons Island (Ga.)
Occultism--History--19th century
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Mines and Mineral Resources
Railroads--History--19th century
Practice of law
Gold mines and mining
Surveys And Explorations, General
Harbors--Port charges--History--19th century
Antisemitism--History--19th century
Women plantation owners
Land settlement
Agriculture--History--19th century
Harbors--Officials and employees--History--19th century
Families--Social life and customs
Representatives, U.S. Congress--Georgia


Birth 1800-08-27

Death 1864-05-10

Spanish; Castilian,




Ark ID: w6xk8f7m

SNAC ID: 56267034