Washington King

 

Washington King

Term: 1855 - 1856
Party: American
Born: October 5, 1815
New York City, New York
Died: August 27, 1861
St. Louis, Missouri
 
Washington King (Mayor 1855-1856)-Background
Mayor (1855-1856). Washington King was born in New York City on October 5, 1815. His father was a well informed man and saw to it that his son got a thorough education in the common schools of New York. Mr. King became an accomplished scholar and took up teaching as a profession. At one time he headed the largest classical and English school in New York City. In 1836 he married Miss Cynthia M. Kelsey of Connecticut and they had two children.

In 1844 King came to St. Louis and entered the manufacturing and mercantile business. The great fire of 1849 brought him financial losses. He then went to Europe and spent two and one-half years traveling and studying the countries. He noted the customs and habits of the people, studied their languages and examined the government policies of the nations he visited.

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Washington King (Mayor 1855-1856)-Administration
In 1855 Washington King became the seventeenth mayor of St. Louis.

Since 1835 most Mayors had devoted much time to bringing railroads to St. Louis. Mayor King continued these activities. In his message to the Council he recommended additional aid to the Ohio and Mississippi Railway to help unite the City with the East. In 1855 Mayor King and former Mayors Kennett and Wimer were on board a 14 car train that brought the Midwest its first major rail disaster. The Pacific Railroad was completed from St. Louis to Jefferson City and on November first, a large group of civic leaders started the seven hour trip to the State Capitol. It was a stormy day, and near Herman, the Gasconade River bridge gave way with many cars crashing into the flooding river. Thirty-one passengers died, and Mayor King and previous Mayor Wimer were injured.

The City's population doubled from 77,860 in 1850 to 160,773 in 1860. This increase was partly due to the annexation of 1856. In that year the City took in surrounding territory of 9 and one-half square miles. Since 1841 the City had occupied 14 square miles. The western limit was extended from Eighteenth Street to Grand Avenue. The outlying towns of Bremen and the Second Municipality of St. Louis were taken in. The Missouri Legislator had passed a Law in 1855 providing for this extension. Thus municipal services had to be extended to a new area about twice the size. State Law made the effective date of the annexation March 31, 1856. The Mayor urged more street paving. The Waterworks was expanded with the completion of a second reservoir at Twentieth and Benton Streets. Mr. King recommended that the Mayor's term should extend through a period of from three to five years.

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Washington King (Mayor 1855-1856)-Post-Administration
Washington King headed the Adams Express Company for several years after completing his administration.

Washington King died in St. Louis, August 27, 1861. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery.

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