Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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KING, Samuel, artist, born in Newport, Rhode Island, 24 January, 1749; died there, 1 January, 1820. He derived descent from Daniel King, of Lynn, Massachusetts, who was a settler there as early as 1647, and a large landowner. Samuel was an artist, of skill in his day, and many specimens of his work are extant, including a portrait of himself, which is now in possession of a descendant. Washington Allston was a lad at school in Newport for some ten years, and, during that time became acquainted with Mr. King, who, recognizing his talent, instructed him in the rudiments of art. The aid and encouragement that Allston thus received were probably largely instrumental in deciding his career, and when in 1809 he returned from Europe, an accomplished artist, he did not forget to acknowledge the friendly assistance he had received from Mr. King. Malbone, the portrait painter, of Newport, and Miss Anne Hall, an accomplished artist, were also pupils of Mr. King.--His son. Samuel, became a successful East India merchant, and was senior partner of the firm of King and Olyphant as early as 1803.--The second Samuel's grandson, Clarence, geologist, born in Newport, Rhode Island, 6 January, 1842, was graduated at the Sheffield scientific school of Yale in 1862, and during the following year crossed the continent on horseback from the Missouri river to California, where he joined the geological survey of that state. His connection with this work continued until 1866, chiefly in the high Sierra, and he carefully studied the gold belt. His palaeontological discoveries furnished the evidence on which rests the determination of the age of the gold-bearing rocks. On his return to the east, he originated an elaborate plan for a complete geological section of the western Cordillera system at the widest expansion on the fortieth parallel. The Union and the Central Pacific railroads were projected to he generally in the vicinity of that parallel, and the opening up of this territory to settlement was the economic reason urged for the initiation of the new expedition. The plans received the sanction of the chief of engineers and of the secretary of war, and in March, 1867, after the necessary legislation was secured, Mr. King was given charge of the expedition. Accompanied by a large staff of his own selection, wholly civilian, he took the field in 1867, and until 1872 prosecuted the work in accordance with the original plans and instructions. The publication of his reports was begun in 1870 and completed in 1878. They are issued as "Professional Papers of the Engineer Department, United States Army," in seven quarto volumes and two atlases, of which vol. i., on "Systematic Geology" (Washington, 1878), was written by Mr. King. His exposure of the fraudulent diamond-field in 1872 was characteristic. Large quantities of precious stone, subsequently shown to have been purchased in London, were carefully "salted" in the west, and the story of a discovery of new diamond-fields of unparalleled richness was circulated throughout the United States. Mr. King hastened to the locality, which was within the jurisdiction of his survey, and promptly exposed the unnatural character of the alleged deposits. In 1878 the national surveys then in the field, organized under different departments of the government, were at his suggestion consolidated into the United States geological survey, and the directorship was given to Mr. King, who accepted the office with the understanding that he should remain at the head of the bureau only long enough to appoint its staff, to organize its work, and to guide its forces into full activity. This consolidation, effected very largely through Mr. King's personal efforts in obtaining the requisite acts of congress in the face of strong and bitter opposition, was one of the most important acts of his career. He resigned the office in 1881, and has since devoted himself to the pursuit of special geological investigations. Mr. King is a member of scientific societies in the United States and in Europe, and in 1876 was elected to the National academy of sciences. He has contributed to current literature, and is the author of "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada" (Boston, 1871).
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