Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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KING, William Rufus, vice president of the United States, born in Sampson county, North Carolina, 6 April, 1786; died near Cahawba, Dallas County, Alabama, 18 April, 1853. His father, William King, served as a member of the North Carolina convention that was called to adopt the constitution of the United States, and was also for many terms a delegate to the general assembly. The son was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1803, studied law with William Duffy, of Fayetteville, and was admitted to practice in 1806. The same year he was elected a member of the state legislature, and was appointed by that body solicitor for the Wilmington district. He served for two years in that capacity, and on resigning was again returned to the legislature for the years 1808-'9. The following year Mr. King was elected to a seat in congress as a War-Democrat, and, though the youngest member of that body, became conspicuous for his zealous support of President Madison. He remained a member of congress until 1816, when he accepted the appointment of secretary of legation to Naples in association with William Pinckney, afterward accompanying Mr. Pinckney to Russia in the same capacity. On his return from Europe in 1818, Mr. King removed to Dallas county, Alabama, and served as a delegate to the convention that organized a state government. On the adoption of the state constitution, he was elected United States senator, and served until 1844, when President Tyler appointed him minister to France. The proposed annexation of Texas was at that time exciting the opposition of England, and it was believed that France might be persuaded to join in the protest. Mr. King, who earnestly favored the undertaking, insisted on receiving from Louis Philippe a frank avowal of his policy. The reply was satisfactory, and annexation took place without opposition from any of the European powers. In 1846 Mr. King was recalled at his own request, and in 1848 he was appointed United States senator in place of Arthur P. Bagby, who had been made minister to Russia. In 1849 he was elected for the full term of six years, and in 1850 he served as president of the senate. In 1852 Mr. King was elected vice president of the United States on the ticket with Franklin Pierce, but failing health forced him to visit Cuba in 1853, where the oath of office was administered by special act of congress. He returned to this country, but with health so completely shattered that he died the day after reaching home. President Pierce paid a tribute to Mr. King's memory in his annual message, and the usual resolutions were passed in both houses of congress. Mr. King was about six feet high, and remarkably erect in figure. He was a fine talker and a most interesting companion. --His elder brother, Thomas D., soldier, born in Duplin county, North Carolina, 22 September, 1779; died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 24 February, 1854, was educated at the University of North Carolina, and was frequently elected to the legislature, in which he served in both houses. He became major in the 43d United States infantry on 4 August, 1813, and remained in the service until peace was declared in 1815.
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