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 William Rufus Devane King

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William Rufus Devane King

  • Birth 7 Apr 1786 Sampson County, North Carolina, USA
  • Death 18 Apr 1853 Selma, Dallas County, Alabama, USA
  • Burial Selma, Dallas County, Alabama, USA
  • Memorial ID 1788

13th United States Vice President, US Senator, US Congressman. He was the son of William King of Sampson County, North Carolina. who rendered important service to his country during the Revolutionary War, was a member of the convention which was called to adopt the federal constitution, and was often a delegate from his county to the general assembly. He was educated in private schools and entered  the University of North Carolina at the age of 12, graduating in 1803. Afterwards he studied law in the office of William Duffy, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and was admitted to the bar in 1805. His license has a unique codicil which allowed him to practice before the State Supreme Court, and the Federal court. Locating at Lincoln, in his native county, he opened an office and in 1806, at the age of 20, was elected a member of the state legislature; was re-elected but resigned after his election as solicitor of the Wilmington district. At the age of twenty-four, in 1810, he was chosen to the United States congress, he gained acceptance, in spite of the fact that he did not become qualified until congress met, continuing as a member and supporting the measures of the Madison administration until 1816 when he was offered the position of secretary of legation to the American embassy at St.Petersburg, Russia. In Russia he was often seen with the Princess, and he resigned his post rather than bringing embarrassment to someone he could not marry. He remained abroad for two years, traveling a great deal, and being closely associated with William Pinckney, the envoy-extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Russia. When he returned from abroad the territory of Alabama was being organized and he soon determined to locate in this section of the country. He secured a residence and plantation near Cahaba, in Dallas County, and in 1819 was elected from this county as a delegate to the convention which framed the first constitution of the State. He was a member of the sub-committee which drafted that instrument. When the first general assembly met in 1819 he was almost unanimously chosen to one of the seats in congress to which the State was entitled, was twice re-elected, and served from December 14, 1819, until April 15, 1844. During the latter year, the relation of the United States with the foreign powers had become very sensitive in consequence of the proposed annexation of Texas and he was prevailed upon to accept the mission as Minister of France where he rendered extraordinary service to his country and where he remained until 1846 where he resigned and returned home. In the summer of 1848 he was appointed by Governor Chapman to the seat in the United States Senate left vacant by the resignation of Arthur P. Bagby. He was reelected, serving from July 1, 1848, to January 18, 1853, when he resigned and was elected president pro tempore of the senate, May 6, and July 11, 1850, resigning as president pro tempore, December 11, 1850. He was nominated for the vice presidency on the ticket with Franklin Pierce in 1852 and was elected to this office by a large majority. While serving in the Senate he contracted tuberculosis and in 1853 was forced to spend the winter in Cuba. By a privilege extended by special act of congress, he took the oath of office, in Havana, Cuba on March 4, 1853. As there was no improvement in his health he returned to Alabama, arriving in Cahaba the day before his death. He was un-married.

Bio by: K M


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1788
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Rufus Devane King (7 Apr 1786–18 Apr 1853), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1788, citing Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Dallas County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .