William R. King
|13th Vice President of the United States|
March 4, 1853 –April 18, 1853
|Preceded by||Millard Fillmore|
|Succeeded by||John C. Breckinridge|
| United States Senator |
July 1, 1848 –December 20, 1852
|Preceded by||Arthur P. Bagby|
|Succeeded by||Benjamin Fitzpatrick|
December 14, 1819 –April 15, 1844
|Preceded by||None (Statehood)|
|Succeeded by||Dixon Hall Lewis|
|President pro tempore of the United States Senate|
May 6, 1850 –December 20, 1852
|Preceded by||David Rice Atchison|
|Succeeded by||David Rice Atchison|
July 1, 1836 –March 4, 1841
|Preceded by||John Tyler|
|Succeeded by||Samuel L. Southard|
|United States Minister to France|
April 9, 1844 –September 15, 1846
|Preceded by||Lewis Cass|
|Succeeded by||Richard Rush|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from North Carolina's 5th district
March 4, 1811 –November 4, 1816
|Preceded by||Thomas Kenan|
|Succeeded by||Charles Hooks|
|Member of the|
North Carolina House of Commons
William Rufus DeVane King
April 7, 1786
Sampson County, North Carolina, U.S.
|Died||April 18, 1853 67) (aged|
Selma, Alabama, U.S.
|Democratic-Republican (before 1828)|
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill|
William Rufus DeVane King (April 7, 1786 – April 18, 1853) was an American politician and diplomat. He was the 13th vice president of the United States for six weeks in 1853 before his death. Earlier he had been elected as a U.S. representative from North Carolina and a senator from Alabama. He also served as minister to France during the reign of King Louis Philippe I.
A Democrat, he was a Unionist and his contemporaries considered him to be a moderate on the issues of sectionalism, slavery and westward expansion, which contributed to the American Civil War. He helped draft the Compromise of 1850.He is the only United States executive official to take the oath of office on foreign soil; he was inaugurated in Havana, Cuba, due to poor health. King died of tuberculosis after 45 days in office. With the exceptions of John Tyler and Andrew Johnson—both of whom succeeded to the presidency—he is the shortest-serving vice president of the United States.
King was the only vice president of the United States from the state of Alabama, and held the highest political office of any Alabamian in American history. He was the third vice president to die in office.
King was born in Sampson County, North Carolina, to William King and Margaret deVane. His family was large, wealthy, and well-connected. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1803, where he was also a member of the Philanthropic Society. Admitted to the bar in 1806 after reading the law with Judge William Duffy of Fayetteville, North Carolina, he began practice in Clinton. King was an ardent Freemason, and was a member of Fayetteville's Phoenix Lodge No. 8.
King entered politics and was elected as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, where he served from 1807 to 1809, and he became city solicitor of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1810. He was elected to the Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses, serving from March 4, 1811, until November 4, 1816, when he resigned to become Secretary of the Legation for William Pinkney during Pinkney's appointment as Minister to Russia and to a special diplomatic mission in Naples. King was only 24 years old when he became a congressman for the first time. (He did not reach the constitutional age of 25 for service in the House of Representatives until after the term began, but the Twelfth Congress did not convene until November 4, 1811, and King was not sworn in until then.)
When he returned to the United States in 1818, King joined the westward migration of the cotton culture to the Deep South, purchasing property at what would later be known as "King's Bend" between present-day Selma and Cahaba on the Alabama River in Dallas County of the new Alabama Territory, which had been recently separated from Mississippi. He developed a large cotton plantation based on slave labor, calling the property "Chestnut Hill". King and his relatives formed one of the largest slaveholding families in the state, collectively owning as many as 500 persons.
William Rufus King was a delegate to the convention which organized the Alabama state government. Upon the admission of Alabama as the twenty-second state in 1819 he was elected by the State Legislature as a Democratic-Republican to the United States Senate.
King was a follower of Andrew Jackson, and was re-elected to the Senate as a Jacksonian in 1822, 1828, 1834, and 1841, serving from December 14, 1819, until his resignation on April 15, 1844. During this time, in March–April 1824, William R. King was honored with a single vote at the Democratic-Republican Party caucus to be the party's candidate for the office of vice president of the United States for the upcoming 1824 presidential election. Later he served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate during the 24th through 27th Congresses. King was Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Commerce.
He was appointed as Minister to France, and served from 1844 to 1846. After his return, King resumed serving in the Senate, appointed and subsequently elected to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Arthur P. Bagby. He held his seat from July 1, 1848 until his resignation on December 20, 1852, because of ill health and his having been elected vice president of the United States.
During the conflicts leading up to the Compromise of 1850, King supported the Senate's gag rule against debate on antislavery petitions and opposed proposals to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, which was administered by Congress.King supported a conservative, pro-slavery position, arguing that the Constitution protected the institution of slavery in both the Southern states and the federal territories. He opposed both the abolitionists' efforts to abolish slavery in the territories as well as the "Fire-Eaters" calls for Southern secession.
On July 11, 1850, two days after the death of President Zachary Taylor, King was appointed Senate President pro tempore. Because Millard Fillmore ascended to the presidency, the vice presidency was vacant, making King first in the line of succession under the law then in effect. He also served as Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Pensions.
The argument for King's homosexuality has been put forward by biographer Jean Baker.It has been supported by Shelley Ross, James W. Loewen, and Robert P. Watson. It focuses essentially on his close and intimate relationship with President James Buchanan. The two men lived together for 13 years from 1840 until King's death in 1853. Buchanan referred to the relationship as a "communion", and the two often attended official functions together. Contemporaries also noted and commented upon the unusual closeness. Andrew Jackson mockingly called them "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy" (the former being a 19th-century euphemism for an effeminate man ), while Aaron V. Brown referred to King as Buchanan's "better half". However, the historian Lewis Saum has pointed out, "Customs and expressions were different in the mid-1800s than they are today... "Miss Nancy" was "a fairly common designation for people who wore clean clothes and had good manners." He also noted that Aaron Brown was a political enemy of King.
Loewen has described Buchanan and King as "siamese twins." Sol Barzman, a biographer of vice presidents, wrote that "King's "fastidious habits and conspicuous intimacy with the bachelor Buchanan gave rise to some cruel jibes." Buchanan adopted King's mannerisms and romanticised view of southern culture. Both had strong political ambitions, and in 1844, they planned to run as president and vice president. Both men were soft, effeminate, and eccentric.They spent some time apart while King was on overseas missions in France, and their letters remain cryptic and avoid revealing any personal feelings at all. In May 1844, Buchanan wrote to Cornelia Roosevelt, "I am now 'solitary and alone,' having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection." After King died in 1853 Buchanan described him as "among the best, the purest and most consistent public men I have known." Baker concluded that while some of their correspondence was destroyed by family members, the length and the intimacy of surviving letters illustrate "the affection of a special friendship" between King and Buchanan, with no way to know for certain whether it was a romantic relationship.
The 1852 Democratic National Convention was held at the 1851 Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts Hall in Baltimore. Franklin Pierce was nominated for president, and King was nominated for vice president.
Pierce and King defeated the Whig candidates, Winfield Scott and William Alexander Graham. (While attending college, King and Graham had been members of rival campus organizations in Chapel Hill; King belonging to the Philanthropic Society and Graham to the Dialectic Society.) Because King was ill with tuberculosis and had traveled to Cuba in an effort to regain his health, he was not able to be in Washington to take his oath of office on March 4, 1853. By a special Act of Congress passed on March 2,he was allowed to take the oath outside the United States, and was sworn in on March 24, 1853, near Matanzas, Cuba, by the US consul to Cuba, William L. Sharkey. King is the first and, to date, only vice president of the United States to take the oath of office on foreign soil.
Shortly afterward, King made the journey to return to Chestnut Hill. He died within two days of his arrival on April 18, 1853, aged 67, of tuberculosis. He was interred in a vault on the plantation and later reburied in Selma's Old Live Oak Cemetery.King never carried out any duties of the office.
Following King's death, the office of vice president was vacant until John C. Breckinridge was inaugurated with President James Buchanan in March 1857.
David Rice Atchison was a mid-19th century Democratic United States Senator from Missouri. He served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate for six years. Atchison served as a major general in the Missouri State Militia in 1838 during Missouri's Mormon War and as a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War under Major General Sterling Price in the Missouri Home Guard. He is best known for the claim that for 24 hours—Sunday, March 4, 1849 through noon on Monday—he may have been Acting President of the United States. This belief, however, is dismissed by nearly all historians, scholars, and biographers.
The 1852 United States presidential election was the 17th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 1852. Democrat Franklin Pierce, a former Senator from New Hampshire, defeated Whig nominee General Winfield Scott.
Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Philadelphia Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution in 1787. After formation of the new Congress he represented New York in the United States Senate. He emerged as a leading member of the Federalist Party, serving as the party's last presidential nominee in the 1816 presidential election.
Lewis Cass was an American military officer, politician, and statesman. He represented Michigan in the United States Senate and served in the Cabinets of two U.S. Presidents, Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan. He was also the 1848 Democratic presidential nominee and a leading spokesman for the Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, which held that the people in each territory should decide whether to permit slavery.
Edmund Winston Pettus was an American lawyer and politician who represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1897 to 1907. He served as a senior officer of the Confederate States Army, commanding infantry in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. After the war, he was politically active in the Ku Klux Klan, serving as a Grand Dragon.
Hamilton Fish was an American politician who served as the 16th Governor of New York from 1849 to 1850, a United States Senator from New York from 1851 to 1857 and the 26th United States Secretary of State from 1869 to 1877. Fish is recognized as the "pillar" of the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant and considered one of the best U.S. Secretaries of State by scholars, known for his judiciousness and efforts towards reform and diplomatic moderation. Fish settled the controversial Alabama Claims with Great Britain through his development of the concept of international arbitration.
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Benjamin Fitzpatrick was the 11th Governor of the U.S. state of Alabama and a United States Senator from that state. He was a Democrat.
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William Smith was an American politician from the state of South Carolina. He served two terms as a Senator in the United States Senate, the first from 1816 to 1823 and the second from 1826 to 1831. During his life Smith was one of the most prominent political leaders in the state of South Carolina. He formed an intense rivalry with John C. Calhoun, arguing against Calhoun's nationalist views, and advocating for states' rights.
George Washington Jones was an American politician who represented Tennessee's fifth district in the United States House of Representatives. He served in the Confederate States Congress during the American Civil War.
Jeremiah Haralson, was a politician from Alabama who was among the first ten African-American Congressmen elected in the United States. Born into slavery in Columbus, Georgia, Haralson became self-educated while enslaved in Selma, Alabama. He was a leader among freedmen after the American Civil War.
Charles Manly Stedman was a politician and lawyer from North Carolina.
The presidency of Franklin Pierce began on March 4, 1853, when Franklin Pierce was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1857. Pierce, a Democrat from New Hampshire, took office as the 14th United States president after routing Whig Party nominee Winfield Scott in the 1852 presidential election. Seen by fellow Democrats as pleasant and accommodating to all the party's factions, Pierce, then a little-known politician, won the presidential nomination on the 49th ballot of the 1852 Democratic National Convention. His presidency ended after losing the Democratic nomination at the 1856 Democratic National Convention.
The presidency of James Buchanan began on March 4, 1857, when James Buchanan was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, took office as the 15th United States president after defeating former President Millard Fillmore of the American Party, and John C. Frémont of the Republican Party in the 1856 presidential election.
James Buchanan Jr. was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 15th president of the United States (1857–1861). He previously served as secretary of state (1845–1849) and represented Pennsylvania in both houses of the U.S. Congress. He was a states' rights advocate, and minimized the role of the federal government in the nation's final years of slavery.
The inauguration of Franklin Pierce as the 14th President of the United States was held on Friday, March 4, 1853, at the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. This was the 17th inauguration and marked the commencement of the only four-year term of both Franklin Pierce as President and William R. King as Vice President. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the presidential oath of office. Pierce affirmed the oath of office rather than swear it, and was also the first president to recite his inaugural address from memory.
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|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from North Carolina's 5th congressional district
|New seat|| U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Alabama |
Served alongside: John Williams Walker, William Kelly, Henry H. Chambers, Israel Pickens, John McKinley, Gabriel Moore, Clement Clay, Arthur P. Bagby
Arthur P. Bagby
| U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alabama |
Served alongside: Dixon Lewis, Benjamin Fitzpatrick, Jeremiah Clemens
| United States Minister to France |
| President pro tempore of the United States Senate |
Samuel L. Southard
David Rice Atchison
| President pro tempore of the United States Senate |
David Rice Atchison
| Vice President of the United States |
John C. Breckinridge
|Party political offices|
William Orlando Butler
| Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States|
John C. Breckinridge
|12th||Senate: J. Turner • J. Franklin||House: N. Macon • R. Stanford • W. Alston • A. McBryde • M. Franklin • J. Pearson • W. King • W. Blackledge • L. Sawyer • I. Pickens • J. Cochran • W. Kennedy • T. Blount|
|13th||Senate: D. David Stone • J. Turner • F. Locke Jr.||House: N. Macon • R. Stanford • W. Alston • J. Culpepper • M. Franklin • J. Pearson• W. King • W. Gaston • W. Murfree • I. Pickens • B. Yancey • W. Kennedy • P. Forney|
|14th||Senate: J. Turner • F. Locke Jr. • N. Macon • M. Stokes||House: N. Macon • R. Stanford • J. Culpepper • W. King • W. Gaston • W. Murfree • I. Pickens • B. Yancey • J. Bryan • J. Clark • D. Forney • W. Love • L. Williams • W. Edwards • S. Dickens • C. Hooks|
|16th||Senate: W. King • J. Walker||House: J. Crowell|
|17th||Senate: W. King • J. Walker • W. Kelly||House: G. Moore|
|18th||Senate: W. King • W. Kelly||House: G. Moore • J. McKee • G. Owen|
|19th||Senate: W. King • H. Chambers • J. McKinley • I. Pickens||House: G. Moore • J. McKee • G. Owen|
|20th||Senate: W. King • J. McKinley||House: G. Moore • J. McKee • G. Owen|
|21st||Senate: W. King • J. McKinley||House: R. Baylor • C. Clay • D. Lewis|
|22nd||Senate: W. King • G. Moore||House: C. Clay • D. Lewis • S. Mardis|
|23rd||Senate: W. King • G. Moore||House: C. Clay • D. Lewis • S. Mardis • J. McKinley • J. Murphy|
|24th||Senate: W. King • G. Moore||House: D. Lewis • R. Chapman • J. Lawler • F. Lyon • J. Martin|
|25th||Senate: W. King • J. McKinley • C. Clay||House: D. Lewis • R. Chapman • J. Lawler • F. Lyon • J. Martin • G. Crabb|
|26th||Senate: W. King • C. Clay||House: D. Lewis • R. Chapman • G. Crabb • J. Dellet • D. Hubbard|
|27th||Senate: W. King • C. Clay • A. Bagby||House: D. Lewis • R. Chapman • G. Houston • W. Payne • B. Shields|
|28th||Senate: W. King • A. Bagby • D. Lewis||House: D. Lewis • R. Chapman • J. Dellet • G. Houston • W. Payne • J. Belser • F. Felix Grundy McConnell • W. Yancey|
|30th||Senate: W. King • D. Lewis • B. Fitzpatrick • A. Bagby||House: • H. Hilliard • W. Cobb • S. Inge • S. Harris • F. Bowdon • J. Gayle • G. Houston|
|31st||Senate: W. King B. Fitzpatrick • J. Clemens||House: • H. Hilliard • F. Bowdon • W. Cobb • S. Inge • S. Harris • W. Alston • D. Hubbard|
|32nd||Senate: J. Clemens • W. King • B. Fitzpatrick||House: S. Harris • G. Houston • J. Abercrombie J. Bragg • W. Cobb • W. Smith • A. White|