Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Richard King (1855-?)
MSA SC 3520-13654


    Richard E. King was the second African American lawyer to be admitted to the Maryland State bar to practice law was also the second known black within Maryland to petition the State and Federal Governments for his admission.  He was born September 1855 in Charles County, Maryland and was married to Mary F. King with whom he had two known daughters, Hattie and Esther King.1  Richard King studied law at a Boston law school.  He returned to the Baltimore City area of Maryland to practice law but, found upon his request that he could not join the Maryland bar do to state laws prohibiting blacks from practicing law at the state level in Maryland.  He then began to petition the state and federal governments for the right to practice law at the state level, claiming that such laws prohiting him were in violation of his constitutional rights.2  He made his first appeal to the state legislature asking for an amendment to the state law in order to give blacks the right to apply for admission to the state bar, but they refused to amend or repeal the law.

    The Maryland State law in which he was referring to was Maryland State Code, Article 59, Section 3.  The article specifies white male citizens only as being able or eligible for application to practice law at the state level. Blacks, therefore by the wording were excluded. The article denies the petition of Charles Taylor the first black to petition for admission to a bar at the state level in 1877.   May 19, 1884, King petition the United States Senate to overturn this law so that blacks could practice law in Maryland.  Thursday, September 30, 1886 King was given his first chance to apply for admission to the bar.  However, he was found unqualified for admission and his application was declined.3  He was finally admitted to the St. Mary's County bar on December 5, 1887 after he furnished the necessary evidence as to his moral character.4 After his admission to the St. Mary's County bar he was admitted to the bar in Charles County. He was later admitted to the Prince Georges's bar on April 4, 1888.5  He was also one of the few blacks register to vote in a Maryland voting district.6

    During his practice of  law in Maryland Richard King settled several legal matter for blacks in his community.  On May 30, 1889 he was able to help Rachel Gladden a Maryland resident recieve bounty pay from the State government.  Several lawyers had attempted this case, but King was the only one to come out of it successful.7 By June 27, 1889 King was admitted to the bar of the Court of Appeals.8  He also was a candiate to run for the House of Delegates for the Republican Party in August 1889, but then he announced his withdrawal from the Legislative contest September 12, 1889.9

1U.S. Census Record, 1900, Anne Arundel County
2The Evening Capital, May 21, 1884.
3St. Mary's Enterprise, October 2, 1886.
4St. Mary's Beacon,  December 8, 1887.
5St. Mary's Beacon, April 12, 1888.
6St. Mary's Beacon, May 24, 1888.
7St. Mary's Beacon, May 30, 1889.
8COURT OF APPEALS (Test Book) Richard E. King, Volume RWG 1 Page 127 [MSA S431-1, 1/66/14/12]
9St. Mary's Beacon, September 12, 1889.

Return to Richard King's  Introductory Page

Biography written by Dana Sutton-Echols, 2001 Intern

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