Sumner Increase Kimball

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Sumner Kimball

Sumner Increase Kimball, Sc.D. (September 2, 1834 - June 20, 1923) was the organizer of the United States Life-Saving Service and the General Superintendent of the Life-Saving Service from 1878-1915. Originally a lawyer and a legislative administrator, Kimball spent his life creating and leading the Life-Saving Service, one of the predecessor services that eventually became the US Coast Guard, transforming it from an uneven collection of facilities round the US coastline into a coherent and well-trained organization.

Kimball was born in Lebanon, Maine, raised in Sanford, Maine, graduated from Bowdoin in 1855, and admitted to the bar in 1858. He was elected to the Maine Legislature in 1859.

He became a clerk in the United States Treasury Department in 1862, and was placed in charge of the Revenue Marine Bureau there in 1871. When the Life-Saving Bureau was organized in 1878 he was appointed its head. Under his direction, the Life-Saving Service was extended to the Pacific Coast and the Great Lakes.

Kimball also served in several other positions at the Treasury Department (acting Register, acting Comptroller, acting Solicitor). He was the author of Organization and Methods of the United States Life-Saving Service (1889) and Joshua James-Life Saver (1909).

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