King, Horatio Collins

Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Class of 1858; Trustee, 1896-1918
    Full name
    Horatio Collins King
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    Horatio Collins (father), Emma Carter Stebbins (first wife), Esther Augusta Howard (second wife)
    Dickinson (Carlisle College)
    Attorney or Judge
    Other Affiliations
    Local government
    Union Army
    US military (Post-Civil War)
    Occupation in 1860
    Residence in 1860
    Marital status in 1860

    Horatio Collins King (Dickinson Chronicles)

    Horatio Collins King was born on December 22, 1837 in Portland, Maine, to Horatio and Anne Collins King. The elder King served as postmaster general in the cabinet of James Buchanan. Horatio Collins King was prepared at Emory and Henry College. In 1854 he entered Dickinson College, where his uncle Charles Collins was president. While there, he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma and the Union Philosophical Society. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1858; King was later inducted into Phi Beta Kappa when a chapter was established at Dickinson in 1886. Following his graduation, King studied law for two years with Edwin M. Stanton, later secretary of war, and in 1861 moved to New York City. He was admitted to the New York State Bar that same year.

    War erupted and King sought a commission in the United States Army. In 1862 he received his appointment as assistant quartermaster of volunteers with the rank of captain in the Army of the Potomac from his former mentor Stanton. He was soon promoted to chief quartermaster of the First Cavalry Division of the Army of the Shenandoah. He took part in five battles following this appointment, and he was recommended for promotion because of gallantry at the Battle of Five Forks. King was honorably discharged in October 1866 with the brevets of major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. He returned to the practice of law in New York City until 1871, when he assumed the position of associate editor at the New York Star. King then became publisher of the Christian Union with his close friend, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, as editor. He also helped to edit The Christian at Work. In 1874, King returned to his law practice and remained active in the profession for the remainder of his life.

    King joined the National Guard of New York in 1876 and was elected major of the Thirteenth Regiment. He was appointed judge advocate for the Eleventh Brigade in 1880 and, in 1883, was appointed by Governor Grover Cleveland to be judge advocate general, with the rank of brigadier general, in the National Guard, State of New York. He served as secretary of the Society of the Army of the Potomac from 1877 to 1904 and as president of the organization in 1904. He was a member of the Order of Elks, a Mason, and a charter member of the New York Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. King was also an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, serving two years as post commander and one year as department judge advocate general. King served for ten years as a member of the Brooklyn Board of Education and a member of the New York Monuments' Commission. King ran for Secretary of State of New York in 1895 on the Democratic ticket, but was defeated. He then ran for Congress in 1896 for the Sound Money Party, but was again defeated. When later nominated for office, King declined.

    King served as a trustee of Dickinson College from 1896 to 1918, and is perhaps best known by the college as the author of numerous school songs including Dickinson's Alma Mater, "Noble Dickinsonia." He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Allegheny College in 1897, and in the same year, Horatio Collins King was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry" while serving with the cavalry in March 1865 near Dinwiddie Court House.

    King married Emma Carter Stebbins, daughter of New York merchant Russell Stebbins, in October 1862. Following Emma's death around the conclusion of the Civil War, he married Esther Augusta Howard (1845-1925), the daughter of Captain John T. Howard with whom King had served during the War, in June 1866. He and Esther had nine children and resided in Brooklyn, New York, for much of their lives. Horatio Collins King died on November 15, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York.
    John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Horatio Collins King,” Dickinson Chronicles,  

    Horatio Collins King (National Cyclopaedia)

    KING, Horatio Collins, soldier, author, and editor, was born in Portland, Me., Dec. 22, 1837, son of Horatio King, postmaster-general under Pres. Buchanan. He is descended from Philip King who came from England and settled at Braintree, Mass., in 1680. His great-grandfather, George King, was clerk and sergeant of the Raynham Co., in the war of the revolution, and a man of great personal courage. Horatio C. King was graduated at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., in 1858; studied law with E. M. Stanton, afterwards secretary of war, and was admitted to practice in New York city in May, 1861. Soon after the breaking-out of the war he entered the army as captain and participated with the army of the Potomac and the army of the Shenandoah for three years. He served on the staffs of Gens. Casey, Heintzelman, Augur, Wesley Merritt, and Thomas C. Devin, and received special mention for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Five Forks. He was promoted to the rank of major, and was brevetted lieutenant-colonel and colonel for faithful and meritorious service. At the close of the war he resumed the practice of law, continuing until 1870, when he accepted the position of associate-editor of the New York “Star,” of which Joseph Howard, Jr., was then the proprietor. Two years after he became associated with Rev. Henry Ward Beecher as business manager of the “Christian Union.” He was for two years also publisher of the “Christian at Work,” under the editorship of Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage. At the solicitation of Mr. Beecher he returned to the “Christian Union,” remaining until 1878, when he resigned and resumed the practice of law. In 1883 he was appointed judge advocate-general on the staff of Grover Cleveland, continuing until the close of his term of office. In 1895 he was the New York Democratic nominee for secretary of state. He has been conspicuous in the Grand Army of the Republic, in the Society of the Army of the Potomac, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the Masons, Elks, and other military and civic organizations.
    “King, Horatio Collins,” The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York: James T. White & Company, 1896), 6: 193.

    Horatio Collins King (Kates, 2000)

    For over fifty years, King was a member of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, which was founded by his father-in-law, John Tasker Howard. Henry Ward Beecher was pastor there from 1847 until his death in 1887. The two men became as close as brothers. King first became entranced by Beecher while at Dickinson. Along with eighteen other students, he attended an abolitionist speech by Beecher at the First Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. According to King, all of the students were Democrats and anti-abolitionists. Yet Beecher captivated his audience for two hours with a speech entitled, "Equal Rights." On Tuesday, March 24, 1857, King wrote in his journal, "I listened to the finest lecture it was ever my good fortune to hear. Notwithstanding I could not accord with him in his fanatical views of 'Equal Rights' and Pulpit Politics, still all must acknowledge it to be a masterly effusion from the pen of a smart tho' misguided man." The Civil War and Beecher helped to change King's outlook, however. "The three years which I devoted to the great war reversed my attitude towards the slavery question," he later recalled, "and no one was happier than myself when the escutcheon of slavery was wiped off our national emblem."
    David Aaron Kates, “Horatio Collins King’s ‘Journal of My College Life, Comprising love, foolishness, and the like,'” John and Mary’s Journal 13 (2000): 21-22.

    Horatio Collins King (New York Monuments Commission, 1916)

    Colonel Lewis R. Stegman: It happens that a large part of the honors incident to this dedication has fallen to the cavalry. General Horatio C. King, who comes next on the programme, enjoys the distinction of having been a member of the far-famed Cavalry Corps which was commanded by General Sheridan. It is not necessary for me to say much in introducing General King to you ; he is well known in veteran circles all over the country. For several decades General King has been the Secretary of the Society of the Army of the Potomac. The interesting addresses to his credit at functions such as this are numerous and they have often been printed. And as well as speeches, he is, also, the author of a long list of spirited poems. A great many of you here to-day will recall with what signal success General King presided at the ceremonies of " New York Day at Gettysburg " a year ago last July, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary celebration. General King's health, in consequence of his having been stricken ill last spring, is not as good as when you heard him last on this field; but we are all delighted that he has so far  recovered his strength as to be able to come here to-day.
    New York Monuments Commission, In Memoriam, James Samuel Wadsworth, 1807-1864 (Albany: J.B. Lyon Company, Printers, 1916), 56.

    Horatio Collins King (New York Times)


    Lawyer, Editor, and Lecturer, Who Was Prominent in Brooklyn Life.


    Won the Congressional Medal of Honor for Conspicuous Bravery in the Field

    General Horatio Collins King, lawyer, journalist, and one of the most distinguished veterans of the civil war, died yesterday at his residence, 46 Willow Street, Brooklyn, from heart disease. General King, who was in his eighty-first year, was stricken with paralysis early in 1914, and in August, 1917, he suffered a severe heart attack.

    General King was born at Portland, Me., the son of Horatio King, editor of The Portland Jeffersonian, who later became Postmaster General under President Buchanan. He was graduated from Dickinson College in 1858, and after studying law for two years with Edwin M. Stanton, afterward Secretary of War, he entered the law office of Edgar S. Van Winkle in this city. He was admitted to the bar in 1861.

    When the civil war began he received an appointment as Assistant Quartermaster with the rank of Captain, and afterward served in the same capacity on the staff of General Heintzelman and General Auger, later becoming Chief Quartermaster of General De Bussy’s division. Still later, with the rank of Major, he was assigned to the staff of General Wesley Merritt. For distinguished service at the battle of Five Forks and in the James River raid, in which he brought up reserves in time to repel a charge of Confederates, he was brevetted Colonel. Later he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery. At the close of the war he returned to New York to resume his law practice.

    From 1871 to 1873 General King was editor of The New York Star, and then became publisher of The Christian Union, of which his friend, Henry Ward Beecher, was the editor. Later he became publisher of The Christian at Work under the editorship of the Rev. T. De Witt Talmage.

    General King was twice married, his first wife having been Miss Emma C. Stebbins, who died in 1864. In 1866 he married Miss Esther Howard, daughter of the late John Tasker Howard.

    "Gen. Horatio C. King Dies In 81st Year," New York Times, November 16, 1918, p. 13.
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Kates, David Aaron, ed. "Sophmore Year, 2d Sesssion, Commencing January 17, 1856." John and Mary's Journal 13 (2000): 33-58. view record
    Kates, David Aaron. "Horatio Collins King's "Journal of My College Life, Comprising love, foolishness and the like." John and Mary's Journal 13 (2000): 19-31. view record
    King, Horatio Collins. History of Dickinson College. New York: American University Magazine Publishing Co., 1897. view record
    King, Horatio Collins. The Army of the Potomac Sketch: The Phantom Column. New York, 1898. view record
    King, Horatio Collins. Turning on the Light: A Dispassionate Survey of President Buchanan's Sdministration, from 1860 to its Close, Including a Biographical Sketch of the Author, Eight Letters from Mr. Buchanan Never Before Published, and Numerous Miscellaneous Articles. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1895. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "King, Horatio Collins," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,