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It is not the rule for men to follow the trade or profession to which they are best adapted and to achieve the dominant ambition of their lives. This inclination and result can in absolute truth be said of Capt. Henry King. He learned the printer’s trade because the attraction was irresistible, and advanced from the composing room and hand press to the editorial desk because he must have foreseen the work he was best fitted to do. His taste and capacity were for writing, a natural force impelling him to reduce the workings of his mind to written form–and it was real writing, for he never used a stenographer or typewriter, and his “copy” was the perfection of chirography.
As a young man he published and edited a weekly newspaper at his home town, LaHarpe, Illinois. This work was interrupted by a four years’ service in the army in 1861-65. Returning from the army, he engaged in a profitless mercantile business, and studied law, but all the time there was a ceaseless call to write, and he was soon working on the Daily Whig, at Quincy, Illinois, of which he became editor. Later, in 1869, he removed to Topeka, where in turn he edited the State Record, the Commonwealth and the Capital. From the latter post he went to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, in 1883, first as contributing editor, and for the last eighteen years of his life as managing editor.
Conducting a metropolitan newapaper gave him the broad field for which he had prepared himself, and in which he gained a reputation that was conspicuous and a fame that was dear to him. He had made his influence felt in Illinois; his career in Kansas was a distinguished one; his success in Missouri was so notable that he was elected to be the life president of the Missouri State Editorial Association; and, crowning these achievernents, he was chosen to be the president of the World’s Press Parliament at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. He was also the first editor of the Kansas Magazine, now a bright literary memory in Kansas.
When asked to prepare a biographical sketch recounting his labors and experiences, Captain King modestly replied: “Life generally uneventful; simply a story of trying to do my best wherever placed.”
Henry King was born at Salem, Ohio, May 11, 1841, and died at St. Louis, March 15, 1915. From 1869 to 1883 he was prominent in Kansas affairs. His interest in and love for the state continued up to the date of his death, and during the period of his activity he undoubtedly contributed as much to the history of Kansas and the West as any of his contemporaries.