CHARLES KILBORN WILLIAMS was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to Rutland, Vermont in 1790. He graduated from Williams College in 1800 and went on to receive an M.A. jointly from Williams and Middlebury Colleges and an LL.D. from Middlebury. He rose to the rank of Brigadier-General in the Vermont Militia, serving in one campaign on the northern frontier during the War of 1812. He was a member of the Vermont General Assembly for a number of nonconsecutive terms, and served as State’s Attorney for Rutland County in 1814 and 1815 and a Judge of the Vermont Supreme Court in 1822-1824 and 1829-1849-as Chief Justice for the last thirteen of those years.– From 1825 to 1829 he was Collector of Customs for the District of Vermont and was appointed a State Commissioner for common schools in 1827. In 1842 he ran unsuccessfully for governor as the Abolitionist candidate. He went on to be elected a member of the Council of Censors, serving as its president. And in 1850 he won the race for governor as the Whig candidate, winning again in 1851-the last election decided by popular vote until the formation of the Republican Party. His administration was marked by passage of the Habeas Corpus Act, reflecting the strong anti-slavery sentiments in Vermont. After serving two terms as governor, Williams did not seek reelection and died the following year of heart disease.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.