King, Rufus - History

King, Rufus - History


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King, Rufus (1775-1827) Lawyer, Politician: King was born on March 24, 1755, in Scarboro, Massachusetts, which is now considered part of Maine. He was the eldest son of a successful merchant, and he graduated from Harvard in 1777. After studying law with Theophilus Parsons, King opened a legal practice in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1783, he began his political career as a delegate to the Massachusetts General Court. Later serving as a member of the Continental Congress (1784-86), he supported the creation of a more powerful government than existed under the Articles of Confederation. At the Constitutional Convention, he argued against the "phantom of state sovereignty." Nevertheless, King stood firm for the interests of Massachusetts, refusing to give in to the demands of small states or Southern states, even for the sake of the Union. He supported Massachusetts-friendly proportional representation in Congress. Speaking to the Convention on August 8, 1787, King described the Committee of Detail's report as being full of "inequality and unreasonableness." He asserted that he "never could agree" to permit slaves to be "imported without limitation and then be represented in the National Legislature." After promoting the ratification of the Constitution at the Massachusetts convention, he married into a prominent New York family. King served as a New York Senator 1789-96 and 1813-24, maintaining a strong Federalist stance and supporting the Jay Treaty. King became minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain in 1796, following Thomas Pinckney, and ran unsuccessfully as the vice-presidential candidate in 1804 and 1808. As a senator, he criticized the War of 1812 and the institution of slavery. King remained in the Senate until two years before his death in New York, on April 29, 1827.


The 175-Year History of Speculating About President James Buchanan’s Bachelorhood

At the start of 1844, James Buchanan’s presidential aspirations were about to enter a world of trouble. A recent spat in the Washington Daily Globe had stirred his political rivals into full froth—Aaron Venable Brown of Tennessee was especially enraged. In a “confidential” letter to future first lady Sarah Polk, Brown savaged Buchanan and “his better half,” writing: “Mr. Buchanan looks gloomy & dissatisfied & so did his better half until a little private flattery & a certain newspaper puff which you doubtless noticed, excited hopes that by getting a divorce she might set up again in the world to some tolerable advantage.”

The problem, of course, is that James Buchanan, our nation’s only bachelor president, had no woman to call his “better half.” But, as Brown’s letter implies, there was a man who fit the bill.

Google James Buchanan and you inevitably discover the assertion that American history has declared him to be the first gay president. It doesn’t take much longer to discover that the popular understanding of James Buchanan as our nation’s first gay president derives from his relationship with one man in particular: William Rufus DeVane King of Alabama. The premise raises many questions: What was the real nature of their relationship? Was each man “gay,” or something else? And why do Americans seem fixated on making Buchanan our first gay president?

My new book, Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King, aims to answer these questions and set the record straight, so to speak, about the pair. My research led me to archives in 21 states, the District of Columbia, and even the British Library in London. My findings suggest that theirs was an intimate male friendship of the kind common in 19th-century America. A generation of scholarship has uncovered numerous such intimate and mostly platonic friendships among men (though some of these friendships certainly included an erotic element as well). In the years before the Civil War, friendships among politicians provided an especially important way to bridge the chasm between the North and the South. Simply put, friendships provided the political glue that bound together a nation on the precipice of secession.

This understanding of male friendship pays close attention to the historical context of the time, an exercise that requires one to read the sources judiciously. In the rush to make new meaning of the past, I have come to understand why today it has become de rigeur to consider Buchanan our first gay president. Simply put, the characterization underscores a powerful force at work in historical scholarship: the search for a usable queer past.

Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King

While exploring a same-sex relationship that powerfully shaped national events in the antebellum era, Bosom Friends demonstrates that intimate male friendships among politicians were—and continue to be—an important part of success in American politics

The year was 1834, and Buchanan and King were serving in the United States Senate. They came from different parts of the country: Buchanan was a lifelong Pennsylvanian, and King was a North Carolina transplant who helped found the city of Selma, Alabama. They came by their politics differently. Buchanan started out as a pro-bank, pro-tariff, and anti-war Federalist, and held onto these views well after the party had run its course. King was a Jeffersonian Democrat, or Democratic-Republican, who held a lifelong disdain for the national bank, was opposed to tariffs, and supported the War of 1812. By the 1830s, both men had been pulled into the political orbit of Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party.

They soon shared similar views on slavery, the most divisive issue of the day. Although he came from the North, Buchanan saw that the viability of the Democratic Party depended on the continuance of the South’s slave-driven economy. From King, he learned the political value of allowing the “peculiar institution” to grow unchecked. Both men equally detested abolitionists. Critics labeled Buchanan a “doughface” (a northern man with southern principles), but he pressed onward, quietly building support across the country in the hopes of one day rising to the presidency. By the time of his election to that office in 1856, Buchanan was a staunch conservative, committed to what he saw as upholding the Constitution and unwilling to quash southern secession during the winter of 1860 to 1861. He had become the consummate northern doughface.

King, for his part, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1810. He believed in states’ rights, greater access to public lands, and making a profit planting cotton. His commitment to the racial hierarchy of the slaveholding South was whole cloth. At the same time, King supported the continuation of the Union and resisted talk of secession by radical Southerners, marking him as a political moderate in the Deep South. For his lifelong loyalty to the party and to balance the ticket, he was selected as the vice-presidential running mate under Franklin Pierce in 1852.

Buchanan and King shared one other essential quality in addition to their political identification. Both were bachelors, having never married. Born on the Pennsylvania frontier, Buchanan attended Dickinson College and studied law in the bustling city of Lancaster. His practice prospered nicely. In 1819, when he was considered to be the city’s most eligible bachelor, Buchanan became engaged to Ann Coleman, the 23-year-old daughter of a wealthy iron magnate. But when the strain of work caused Buchanan to neglect his betrothed, Coleman broke off the engagement, and she died shortly thereafter of what her physician described as “hysterical convulsions.” Rumors that she had committed suicide, all the same, have persisted. For Buchanan’s part, he later claimed that he entered politics as “a distraction from my great grief.”

The love life of William Rufus DeVane King, or “Colonel King” as he was often addressed, is a different story. Unlike Buchanan, King was never known to pursue a woman seriously. But—critically—he could also tell a story of a love lost. In 1817, while serving as secretary to the American mission to Russia, he supposedly fell in love with Princess Charlotte of Prussia, who was just then to marry Czar Nicholas Alexander, heir to the Russian imperial throne. As the King family tradition has it, he passionately kissed the hand of the czarina, a risky move that could have landed him in serious jeopardy. The contretemps proved fleeting, as a kind note the next day revealed that all was forgiven. Still, he spent the remainder of his days bemoaning a “wayward heart” that could not love again.

Each of these two middle-aged bachelor Democrats, Buchanan and King, had what the other lacked. King exuded social polish and congeniality. He was noted for being “brave and chivalrous” by contemporaries. His mannerisms could at times be bizarre, and some thought him effeminate. Buchanan, by contrast, was liked by almost everyone. He was witty and enjoyed tippling, especially glasses of fine Madeira, with fellow congressmen. Whereas King could be reserved, Buchanan was boisterous and outgoing. Together, they made for something of an odd couple out and about the capital.

While in Washington, they lived together in a communal boardinghouse, or mess. To start, their boardinghouse included other congressmen, most of whom were also unmarried, yielding a friendly moniker for their home: the “Bachelor’s Mess.” Over time, as other members of the group lost their seats in Congress, the mess dwindled in size from four to three to just two—Buchanan and King. Washington society began to take notice, too. “Mr. Buchanan and his Wife,” one tongue wagged. They were each called “Aunt Nancy” or “Aunt Fancy.” Years later, Julia Gardiner Tyler, the much younger wife of President John Tyler, remembered them as “the Siamese twins,” after the famous conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker.

Certainly, they cherished their friendship with one another, as did members of their immediate families. At Wheatland, Buchanan’s country estate near Lancaster, he hung portraits of both William Rufus King and King’s niece Catherine Margaret Ellis. After Buchanan’s death in 1868, his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, who played the part of first lady in Buchanan’s White House, corresponded with Ellis about retrieving their uncles’ correspondence from Alabama.

More than 60 personal letters still survive, including several that contain expressions of the most intimate kind. Unfortunately, we can read only one side of the correspondence (letters from King to Buchanan). One popular misconception holds that their nieces destroyed their uncles’ letters by pre-arrangement, but the real reasons for the mismatch stem from multiple factors: for one, the King family plantation was raided during the Battle of Selma in 1865, and for another, flooding of the Selma River likely destroyed portions of King’s papers prior to their deposit at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Finally, King dutifully followed Buchanan’s instructions and destroyed numerous letters marked “private” or “confidential.” The end result is that relatively few letters of any kind survive in the various papers of William Rufus King, and even fewer have ever been prepared for publication.

By contrast, Buchanan kept nearly every letter which he ever received, carefully docketing the date of his response on the backside of his correspondence. After his death, Johnston took charge of her uncle’s papers and supported the publication of a two-volume set in the 1880s and another, more extensive 12-volume edition in the early 1900s. Such private efforts were vital to securing the historical legacy of U.S. presidents in the era before they received official library designation from the National Archives.

Still, almost nothing written by Buchanan about King remains available to historians. An important exception is a singular letter from Buchanan written to Cornelia Van Ness Roosevelt, wife of former congressman John J. Roosevelt of New York City. Weeks earlier, King had left Washington for New York, staying with the Roosevelts, to prepare for a trip overseas. In the letter, Buchanan writes of his desire to be with the Roosevelts and with King:

I envy Colonel King the pleasure of meeting you & would give any thing in reason to be of the party for a single week. I am now “solitary & 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 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 & not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.

Along with other select lines of their correspondence, historians and biographers have interpreted this passage to imply a sexual relationship between them. The earliest biographers of James Buchanan, writing in the staid Victorian era, said very little about his sexuality. Later Buchanan biographers from the 1920s to the 1960s, following the contemporary gossip in private letters, noted that the pair were referred to as “the Siamese twins.”

But by then, an understanding of homosexuality as a sexual identity and orientation had begun to take hold among the general public. In the 1980s, historians rediscovered the Buchanan-King relationship and, for the first time, explicitly argued that it may have contained a sexual element. The media soon caught wind of the idea that we may have had a “gay president.” In the November 1987 issue of Penthouse Magazine, New York gossip columnist Sharon Churcher noted the finding in an article headlined “Our First Gay President, Out of the Closet, Finally.” The famous author—and Pennsylvania native—John Updike pushed back somewhat in his novel Memories of the Ford Administration (1992). Updike creatively imagined the boardinghouse life of Buchanan and King, but he admitted to finding few “traces of homosexual passion.” Updike’s conclusion has not stopped a veritable torrent of historical speculation in the years since.

This leaves us today with the popular conception of James Buchanan as our first gay president. On the one hand, it’s not so bad a thing. Centuries of repression of homosexuality in the United States has erased countless number of Americans from the story of LGBT history. The dearth of clearly identifiable LGBT political leaders from the past, moreover, has yielded a necessary rethinking of the historical record and has inspired historians to ask important, searing questions. In the process, past political leaders who for one reason or another don’t fit into a normative pattern of heterosexual marriage have become, almost reflexively, queer. More than anything else, this impulse explains why Americans have transformed James Buchanan into our first gay president.

Certainly, the quest for a usable queer past has yielded much good. Yet the specifics of this case actually obscure a more interesting, and perhaps more significant, historical truth: an intimate male friendship between bachelor Democrats shaped the course of the party, and by extension, the nation. Worse still, moving Buchanan and King from friends to lovers blocks the way for a person today to assume the proper mantle of becoming our first gay president. Until that inevitable day comes to pass, these two bachelors from the antebellum past may be the next closest thing.


William II

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William II, byname William Rufus, French Guillaume Le Roux, (born c. 1056—died August 2, 1100, near Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England), son of William I the Conqueror and king of England from 1087 to 1100 he was also de facto duke of Normandy (as William III) from 1096 to 1100. He prevented the dissolution of political ties between England and Normandy, but his strong-armed rule earned him a reputation as a brutal, corrupt tyrant. Rufus (“the Red”—so named for his ruddy complexion) was William’s third (second surviving) and favourite son. In accordance with feudal custom, William I bequeathed his inheritance, the Duchy of Normandy, to his eldest son, Robert II Curthose England, William’s kingdom by conquest, was given to Rufus.

Nevertheless, many Norman barons in England wanted England and Normandy to remain under one ruler, and shortly after Rufus succeeded to the throne, they conspired to overthrow him in favour of Robert. Led by the Conqueror’s half brother, Odo of Bayeux, Earl of Kent, they raised rebellions in eastern England in 1088. Rufus immediately won the native English to his side by pledging to cut taxes and institute efficient government. The insurgency was suppressed, but the king failed to keep his promises. Consequently, a second baronial revolt, led by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, broke out in 1095. This time William punished the ringleaders with such brutality that no barons dared to challenge his authority thereafter. His attempts to undermine the authority of the English church provoked resistance from St. Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, who, defeated, left the country for Rome in 1097 Rufus immediately seized the lands of Canterbury.

Meanwhile, Rufus was engaged in military operations in Scotland, Wales, and particularly in Normandy. In 1091 he compelled King Malcolm III of Scotland to acknowledge his overlordship. Malcolm revolted in November 1093, but Rufus’ forces quickly killed him near Alnwick, Northumberland. Thereafter, Rufus maintained the Scottish kings as vassals, and in 1097 he subjugated Wales.

William Rufus’ chief interest, however, lay in the recovery of Normandy from the incompetent Robert. After waging war on Normandy for seven years (1089–96), Rufus reduced his brother to the role of a subordinate ally. When Robert left for a crusade in 1096, he mortgaged his kingdom to Rufus, who quickly added Maine to his possessions. In 1100 Rufus was shot in the back with an arrow and killed while hunting in the New Forest in Hampshire. The incident was probably an assassination, and Rufus’ alleged slayer, Walter Tirel, lord of Poix in Ponthieu, may have been acting under orders from the king’s younger brother, Henry. Henry promptly seized the English throne as King Henry I.


William Rufus King

William Rufus King William Rufus King was born on April 7, 1786, to William and Margaret DeVane King on the family plantation in Sampson County, North Carolina. King was educated in private schools and entered the University of North Carolina in 1801, where he joined the Philanthropic Society, an important literary student association. In 1804, King left the university before completing his education to pursue the study of law. He spent the next several years under the tutelage of prominent attorney William Duffy in his Fayetteville law offices. In addition to training in the law, Duffy also worked with King to develop his political skills. In 1808, King opened his own law office in the Clinton, in Samson County. Soon after, he won election to a seat in the North Carolina House of Commons. In 1811, he was elected to the first of three consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he established himself as a supporter of President James Madison. He was also a firm advocate of the War of 1812. Chestnut Hill During this time, the Alabama and Mississippi territories were experiencing a land rush, as eastern settlers moved west in search of good farm land. King's older brother, Thomas DeVane King, had already established a plantation on the Black Warrior River in present-day Tuscaloosa County, and he urged William to follow suit. In early 1818, King purchased land on the Alabama River in Dallas County and established a plantation he named Chestnut Hill. King became a leader in the community that grew up in the area, which he named Selma after a city in a favorite poem. James Buchanan During the early 1830s, King was involved in an incident that reflects speculation about his sexual orientation that continues to the present day. King was challenged to a duel, never carried out, with Dallas County planter Major Michael Kenan about a personal insult. Rumors also circulated in Washington, D.C., at the time, and they increased after King entered into a close friendship with fellow senator James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. Neither man ever married, and by 1836 they were sharing a residence in Washington. Any negative reactions to their relationship appear to have had little effect, and the men continued with their living arrangements and their work as legislators. As the 1840 Democratic Convention drew near, Democratic newspapers in Alabama began to promote King as a running mate for incumbent Pres. Martin Van Buren. King received little support outside of Alabama, even in his home state of North Carolina, and he soon withdrew his name. Richard Mentor Johnson was again chosen as Van Buren's running mate, but their ticket was defeated by that of Whig William Henry Harrison and Democrat John Tyler. When the 1844 presidential election approached, some Democratic Party members suggested a Buchanan-King ticket, but the pairing gained little traction. The nomination instead went to James K. Polk and George M. Dallas. Reuben Chapman In 1844, tensions over the status of the territory of Texas had strained relations between the United States and France. Fearing that France might join forces with Great Britain in thwarting U.S. interests in Texas, Pres. John Tyler appointed the erudite and politically skilled King as minister to France. King, along with his niece, Catherine Ellis, two nephews, and a servant traveled to France and met with King Louis Philippe. King skillfully negotiated the politics of the French court and entertained the monarch and other important figures at lavish events, eventually gaining the king's promise to remain neutral in the Texas issue. Having successfully completed his mission, King returned to Washington with his family members in 1846 and began a campaign for his return to the Senate. In 1847, he ran against ardent states' rights supporter Dixon Hall Lewis. The men shared largely equal support, and the Alabama legislature was evenly divided in its support of the candidates, but Lewis ultimately won the seat. Tomb of William Rufus King During the subsequent campaign, King became increasingly ill, showing the signs of worsening tuberculosis. He continued to campaign tirelessly for a Democratic victory, which he believed essential to keep the country united. Although the ticket was victorious, King was forced to leave Washington, D.C., soon after the general election, taking his physician's advice to seek a warmer climate. In late 1852, he resigned from the Senate and set sail for Havana, Cuba. He settled at Ariadne, the home of Col. John Chartrand set on a large sugar plantation outside the town of Limonar. Despite the improved climate, King's health continued to deteriorate. The U.S. Congress was thus forced to pass special legislation and make arrangements for King's swearing-in as vice president in Cuba on the grounds of the plantation. As King's condition worsened, he decided that he would prefer to die at his home at Chestnut Hill and left Cuba in early April. King arrived at his home on April 17, 1853, and died the following evening. He was buried in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma.

King was a popular and striking figure, and his likeness was captured by a number of artists. Two of the finest portraits of him can be found in Selma at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library and the Vaughn-Smitherman Museum. King's home, Chestnut Hill, burned in the 1920s.

Brooks, Daniel Fate. "The Faces of William Rufus King." Alabama Heritage 69 (Summer 2003): 14-23.


Rufus King

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About The Honorable Rufus King, Signer of the U.S. Constitution

A Patriot of the American Revolution for MASSACHUSETTS with the rank of CAPTAIN. DAR Ancestor # A064762

Rufus King ( born March 24, 1755 in Scarborough, Maine, and died April 29, 1827 in New York City, NY) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. He represented New York in the United States Senate, served as Minister to Britain, and was the Federalist candidate for both Vice President (1804, 1808) and President of the United States (1816).

Parents were Richard King and Isabella Bragdon.

He married Mary Alsop on November 30, 1786 in New York City, New York, daughter of John Alsop and Mary Frogat.

Rufus was graduated at Harvard in 1777, and studied law with Theophilus Parsons, one of the leading jurists of that time. In the Revolution he was aide-de-camp to General Glover, under General Sullivan's command, and proved

himself a brave and faithful soldier.

Of his war experiences, a thrilling story is extant. Young King, the General, and the officers were at breakfast

about a mile distant from Quaker Hill, where a lively cannonading was in progress. The meat had not been served when the General ordered King to ride over and ascertain how the engagement was going. The young officer shook his head sorrowfully at losing his morning meal, but nevertheless sprang from his chair on hearing his commander's words, and ran to where his horse was

standing. As he did so H. Sherbourne, another officer, slipped into his chair at the table, smiling at the departing aide-de-camp. King had scarcely mounted his horse when a stray cannon-ball entered the dining-tent and mangled

Sherbourne's foot and ankle so badly that the leg had to be removed. Sherbourne recovered and was on warm terms of friendship with King for the rest of his life, but ever afterwards he claimed that King owed him leg and

foot-service, while King, on the other hand, invariably removed his hat and thanked Sherbourne for his courtesy in substituting his own leg for King's in the trying ordeal.

Although one of the youngest delegates at the Convention, King was one of the most influential and spoke eloquently for the nationalist cause.

King was born at Scarboro (Scarborough), Mass. (present Maine), in 1755. He was the eldest son of a prosperous farmer merchant. At age 12, after receiving an elementary education at local schools, he matriculated at Dummer Academy in South Byfield, Mass., and in 1777 graduated from Harvard. He served briefly as a general's aide during the War for Independence. Choosing a legal career, he read for the law at Newburyport, Mass., and entered practice there in 1780.

King's knowledge, bearing, and oratorical gifts soon launched him on a political career. From 1783 to 1785, he was a member of the Massachusetts legislature, after which that body sent him to the Continental Congress (1784-86). There, he gained a reputation as a brilliant speaker and an early opponent of slavery. Toward the end of his tour, in 1786, he married Mary Alsop, daughter of a rich New York City merchant. He performed his final duties for Massachusetts by representing her at the Constitutional Convention and by serving in the Commonwealth ratifying convention.

At age 32, King was not only one of the most youthful of the delegates at Philadelphia, but was also one of the most important. He numbered among the most capable orators. Furthermore, he attended every session. Although he came to the Convention unconvinced that major changes should be made in the Articles of Confederation, during the debates his views underwent a startling transformation. With Madison, he became a leading figure in the nationalist caucus. He served with distinction on the committee on postponed matters and the committee of style. He also took notes on the proceedings, which have been valuable to historians.

About 1788 King abandoned his law practice, moved from the Bay State to Gotham, and entered the New York political forum. He was elected to the legislature (1789-90), and in the former year was picked as one of the State's first U.S. Senators. As political divisions grew in the new Government, King's sympathies came to be ardently Federalist. In Congress, he supported Hamilton's fiscal program and stood among the leading proponents of the unpopular Jay's Treaty (1794).

Meantime, in 1791, King had become one of the directors of the First Bank of the United States. Reelected as a U.S. Senator in 1795, he served only a year before he was appointed as Minister to Great Britain (1796-1803).

King's years in this post were difficult ones in Anglo-American relations. The wars of the French Revolution trapped U.S. commerce between the French and the British. The latter in particular violated American rights on the high seas, especially by the impressment of sailors. Although King was unable to bring about a change in this policy, he smoothed relations between the two nations in various ways.

In 1803 King sailed back to the United States and to a career in politics. In 1804 and 1808 fellow-signer Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and he were the Federalist candidates for President and Vice President, respectively, but were decisively defeated. Otherwise, King largely contented himself with agricultural pursuits at King Manor, a Long Island estate he had purchased in 1805. During the War of 1812, he was again elected to the U.S. Senate (1813-25) and ranked as a leading critic of the war. Only after the British attacked Washington in 1814 did he come to believe that the United States was fighting a defensive action and lent his support to the war effort.

In 1816 the Federalists chose King as their candidate for the Presidency, but James Monroe handily beat him. Still in the Senate, that same year King led the opposition to the establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Four years later believing that the issue of slavery could not be compromised but must be settled once and for all by the immediate establishment of a system of compensated emancipation and colonization, he denounced the Missouri Compromise.

In 1825, suffering from ill health, King retired from the Senate. President John Quincy Adams, however, persuaded him to accept another assignment as Minister to Great Britain. He arrived in England that same year, but soon fell ill and was forced to return home the following year. Within a year, at the age of 72, in 1827, he died. Surviving him were several offspring, some of whom also gained distinction. He was laid to rest near King Manor in the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church, Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y.

Ernst, Robert. Rufus King: American Federalist. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Va., by University of North Carolina Press, 1968. Print.

King, Rufus. Rufus King Genealogical Research Papers. , 1720. Archival material.

Akerly, Lucy D, and Rufus King. The King Family of Southold, Suffolk County, New York, 1595-1901: Compiled from Public Records, Family Papers and the Manuscript Genealogy of Mr. Rufus King of Yonkers, N.y. New York: Press of T.A. Wright, 1901. Internet resource.

Rufus King (March 24, 1755 – April 29, 1827) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented New York in the United States Senate, served as Minister to Britain, and was the Federalist candidate for both Vice President (1804, 1808) and President of the United States (1816).

Rufus King was born in 1755, at Scarborough, Maine. He received an excellent education at Harvard College, where he joined its band of students and graduated with honor as a classical scholar and accomplished speaker in 1777. He took part in the military expedition to Rhode Island, in 1778, conducted by General Sullivan. In 1780 he was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of his profession at Newburyport, Mass. In 1784 he was sent to the Legislature, or General Court, as it was termed, of Massachusetts. He was chosen a representative to Congress the same year, and continued a member of that body to the formation of the Constitution. In 1788, Mr. King moved to New York. Two years prior he had married Mary Alsop, the daughter of a wealthy, patriotic merchant of the place. He was chosen, together with General Schuyler, one of the first United States Senators from the State, under the new Constitution. Washington nominated King as minister to England, and he had been particularly recommended for the post by Hamilton. Kings nomination for this position was made to the Senate in May 1796, and immediately confirmed. He resided abroad, as minister to England for six years. When Mr. King returned to the country, not choosing to resume his professional life as a lawyer, he chose to reside in the country, the most dignified retirement for a statesman out of office. He purchased a country seat on Long Island, at Jamaica, in the neighborhood of New York, a spot still in his family (1864), and honored as the residence of his son, Governor John A. King Mr. King thus passed the few years intervening before the outbreak of the second war with England. One of the first incidents of the controversy was an utter depression of the moneyed interests of the country - one of those panics in Wall Street which still continue to be experienced at irregular intervals, when credit seems utterly extinct, and the banks on the verge of annihilation. In May, 1813, Mr. King again took his seat in the Senate of the United States, and was again reelected by the Legislature of New York, in 1820. His second term was marked by his advocacy of the prohibition of slavery in the admission of the territory of Missouri, as he had more than thirty years before introduced the resolution of 1785, in the old Congress, prohibiting slavery in the territory northwest of the Ohio. In 1825, on the termination of his senatorial career, at the age of seventy, he was induced by President John Quincy Adams to accept the mission to England. He was only able to spend a few months in residence in London, because of his health, before returning to America. He returned to his home in Jamaica, where his health deteriorated and he was required to move to New York city for care and assistance. He died there on April 29, 1827. -------------------------------- Rufus King, the son of Richard King, a wealthy merchant, who was born in 1755, at Scarborough, Maine. He received an excellent preparatory education under the direction of Samuel Moody, a teacher of repute of the Byfield Academy, in the town of Newbury, from whose hands he passed to Harvard College, where his studies were interrupted by the opening scenes of the Revolutionary war. The death of his father occurred about the same time. On the reopening of the institution at Cambridge, having pursued his education in the interim with his former preceptor, a rigorous instructor, he joined its band of students and graduated with honor as a classical scholar and accomplished speaker in 1777. We then find him engaged in the study of the law with Theophilus Parsons, subsequently the chief justice of Massachusetts, at Newburyport, and the war being still in progress, he took part in the military expedition to Rhode Island, in 1778, conducted by General Sullivan, with the expectation, through the assistance of the French fleet, of freeing Newport from its British occupants. In this affair young King acted as aid to the American general. In 1780 he was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of his profession at Newburyport, Mass. In his first case, it is said, he had his instructor, Parsons, as his antagonist. Thence he was sent, in 1784, to the Legislature, or General Court, as it was termed, of Massachusetts. He was chosen a representative to Congress the same year, and continued a member of that body to the formation of the Constitution. Mr. King and Mr. Monroe were sent by Congress to Pennsylvania because of the reluctance on their part to meet the provisions of the Old Confederacy, concerning the uniform system of imposts for the public revenue. He was also a prominent member of the Convention of 1787, which formed the Constitution, of which he was one of the most intelligent advocates, and was one of the committee appointed to prepare and report the final draft of the instrument. When the question of its adoption was brought before his own State, he rendered a no less important service in the ratifying convention, in which he sat as a member from Newburyport. In 1788, Mr. King moved to New York. Two years prior he had married Mary Alsop, the daughter of a wealthy, patriotic merchant of the place, a member of the old continental Congress, who had been driven from New York by the British occupation, and had taken refuge with his daughter, his only child, at Middletown, CT., but had return with the withdrawal of the British. Mr. King's position in the political world was so well understood and appreciated at New York, that he was chosen, together with General Schuyler, one of the first United States Senators from the State, under the new Constitution. He was at the time a member of the New York Legislature. He served through his term of office in the Senate, and in 1795 was reelected. In the matter of the Jay's British Treaty of 1794, the Federalists were of one mind, and King, by the side of Fisher Ames, and others of his personal friends, stood nobly by the administration of Washington. Because King and Hamilton were not allowed to speak at a public meeting in New York, on the subject, due to popular opposition, they jointly authored the "Essays on the Treaty," which bore the signature "Camillus." Washington nominated King as minister to England, and he had been particularly recommended for the post by Hamilton. Kings nomination for this position was made to the Senate in May 1796, and immediately confirmed. He resided abroad, as minister to England for six years, throughout the remainder of Washington's administration, all of John Adams', and two years of the first term of Jefferson. When Mr. King returned to the country The Federalists were not in power, and not choosing to resume his professional life as a lawyer, chose to reside in the country, the most dignified retirement for a statesman out of office. He purchased a country seat on Long Island, at Jamaica, in the neighborhood of New York, a spot still in his family, and honored as the residence of his son, Governor John A. King. He moved his family from the city in 1806, and found pleasure in planting and decorating his grounds. Mr. King spent his leisure time out of doors either on horseback or with his gun and dog. During this time he made note of the flowering plants and eventually transplanted them within the boundaries of his estate. Mr. King thus passed the few years intervening before the outbreak of the second war with England. One of the first incidents of the controversy was an utter depression of the moneyed interests of the country - one of those panics in Wall Street which still continue to be experienced at irregular intervals, when credit seems utterly extinct, and the banks on the verge of annihilation. At this crisis, in 1812, Mr. King made his appearance at a general meeting of the citizens of New York, held at the Tontine Coffee House, and gave the advice of forbearance towards the banks. In May, 1813, Mr. King again took his seat in the Senate of the United States, and was again reelected by the Legislature of New York, in 1820. His course in the earlier times was distinguished by his support of the administration in the contest with Great Britain, his speech on the burning of the Capitol at Washington being often spoken of for its eloquence and patriotic fervor. His second term was marked by his advocacy of the prohibition of slavery in the admission of the territory of Missouri, as he had more than thirty years before introduced the resolution of 1785, in the old Congress, prohibiting slavery in the territory northwest of the Ohio. In 1825, on the termination of his senatorial career, at the age of seventy, he was induced by President John Quincy Adams to accept the mission to England. He was only able to spend a few months in residence in London, because of his health, before returning to America. He returned to his home in Jamaica, where his health deteriorated and he was required to move to New York city for care and assistance. He died there on April 29, 1827.

Info added per DAR's "Lineage Book of the Charter Members" by Mary S Lockwood and published 1895 stating he was sister of Elizabeth Lydden King and that he "served during the Revolution, and was first minister to England under Washington"


Rufus King

Prominent Milwaukee editor and political activist Rufus King was born in New York City on January 26, 1814. He was the son of Charles King, longtime editor of the New York American, and the grandson of another Rufus King who helped author the United States Constitution. King attended the preparatory academy at Columbia College before entering the West Point Military Academy in 1829. After graduating fourth in his class at the age of nineteen, King served several years in the corps of engineers and then resigned to work as a civil engineer for the New York and Erie Railroad. In 1839, King took a job as associate editor of the Albany Evening Journal under Thurlow Weed. The same year, King received an appointment as adjutant general of the New York militia. King’s first wife, Ellen Eliot, died soon after their marriage in 1836 he then married her younger sister, Susan Eliot in 1843, and the couple had two children. In September 1845, King moved to Milwaukee to assume editorship of the Sentinel and Gazette. He settled at what became known as “King’s Corner,” at Mason and Van Buren streets.[1]

King quickly became an energetic participant in Milwaukee’s civic life. Soon after his arrival, he joined a citizen’s committee drafting the city’s first charter. A dedicated Whig, King used the Sentinel and Gazette as a political mouthpiece. His editorials promoted white manhood suffrage, free schools, an elective judiciary, a single district voting system, and state support for internal improvements he also cautioned against empowering the legislature to borrow money. King was instrumental in crushing the first proposed state constitution in 1846 because it contained certain anti-banking provisions among other things to which he objected. The sole member of his party from Milwaukee elected to the state’s second constitutional convention, he was active in getting this revised version passed in 1848.[2] King also evolved into Milwaukee’s “educational pathfinder.” He advocated free libraries and worked to improve the city’s schools throughout the 1840s and 1850s. He became the first school board president in 1846 and the first superintendent of Milwaukee schools when the position was formalized in 1859. King also served six years on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents (1848-1854). He was a member of numerous local clubs and societies, as well as the longtime foreman of Fire Engine Company No. 1. In spite of the immense respect the citizenry held for him, as a Whig in a Democratic city he lost mayoral bids in 1847 and 1850.[3]

King opposed slavery, joining the Republican Party in the late 1850s. He left an appointment as United States Minister to the Vatican in order to serve in the Civil War, taking command of the “Iron Brigade” of Wisconsin and Indiana volunteers in 1861. After being reprimanded for disobedience and dereliction of duty for retreating in the face of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s troops in August of the following year, King held non-combat positions until he resigned his commission in 1863. He returned to his ministerial post and remained in Rome for several years. King subsequently resided in New York until his death on October 13, 1876.[4]

Footnotes [+]

    Charles King, “Rufus King: Soldier, Editor, and Statesman,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 4, no. 4. (June 1921): 371-373, accessed February 26, 2013. Perry C. Hill, “Rufus King and the Wisconsin Constitution,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 32, no. 4 (June 1949): 418, 421-424. John Gurda, Cream City Chronicles (Madison, WI: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2007), 182-183 Hill, “Rufus King and the Wisconsin Constitution,” 419 Ethan S. Rafuse, “King, Rufus,” American National Biography Online, accessed March 20, 2013. Rafuse, “King, Rufus,” American National Biography Online, accessed March 20, 2013.

For Further Reading

Hill, Perry C. “Rufus King and the Wisconsin Constitution.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 32 no. 4. (June 1949): 416-435, accessed February 26, 2013.

King, Charles. “Rufus King: Soldier, Editor, and Statesman.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 4 no. 4. (June 1921): 371-381, accessed February 26, 2013.

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Lamented by Few: What Happened After William Rufus Died?

The story that William’s body was transported to Winchester on a cart can be found in the Chronicle of the Kings of England . William of Malmesbury does not mention any Purkis, but “a few countrymen” who conveyed the king’s body to the city. It seems that the character of Purkis was a later addition to the story. The chronicler also mentions what happened to Tirel after realizing he had killed William, as well as during the aftermath of the king’s death. Tirel, who was afraid that he would be punished for regicide, immediately fled from the scene. No one, however, pursued him, as they were more concerned with other matters. William had died without leaving an heir, so the kingdom was plunged into chaos. According to the chronicler: “Some began to fortify their dwellings others to plunder and the rest to look out for a new king.”

William Rufus was succeeded by his brother Henry I after his sudden death. ( Public Domain )

The two main contenders for the English throne at the time of William’s death were his two brothers, Robert and Henry. Robert had not returned from the crusade, and only arrived in Europe in a month after the king’s death. Henry, on the other hand, was in England, and immediately seized the throne. It has been speculated that Tirel may have been working for Henry, and that he received orders to kill the king during the hunt. In any event, William, being an unpopular king, was not missed by many. As William of Malmesbury puts it: “Here it was committed to the ground within the tower, attended by many of the nobility, though lamented by few.”

The New Forest has since been designated a National Park and parts of it can now be visited by the public. The Rufus Stone is one of its many attractions, and is an understated reminder of the event that occurred almost a thousand years ago, be it an unfortunate hunting accident, or an assassination motivated by sibling rivalry.

Top image: The Rufus Stone in the New Forest, England, from sometime between 1890 and 1900. ( Public Domain )


King Rufus: The Life and Murder of William II of England

King William, also known as William Rufus, seized the throne after his father, William the Conqueror died claiming that he was the designated heir. This is one thing we will never know because it has never shown up in any documentation, but he and Robert came to a truce (after fighting) that they would each be each other&aposs heirs if neither one had a legitimate son.

William II had a lot to handle. It seemed like he was always fighting, whether it was with his brothers, the Scots, the Welsh, $10.98

King William, also known as William Rufus, seized the throne after his father, William the Conqueror died claiming that he was the designated heir. This is one thing we will never know because it has never shown up in any documentation, but he and Robert came to a truce (after fighting) that they would each be each other's heirs if neither one had a legitimate son.

William II had a lot to handle. It seemed like he was always fighting, whether it was with his brothers, the Scots, the Welsh, other counts in France, or Earls in England, not to mention his long-running dispute and arguments with Archbishop Anselm. He seemingly had little "need" for the church so exiling Anselm didn't seem to bother him at all. For some reason William never married although the author, who has obviously done a tremendous amount of research, claims he at least had an illegitimate son. Why he never planned for the future is something we will never know.

The author seems to believe that Walter Tirel accidentally shot the king and killed him. There have been many conspiracy theories regarding William's death, and with all the time that has passed, it is something else we will never know. However I find it very "convenient" that William's brother, Henry, was with him when he was killed and he immediately seized the throne since Robert was on his way back from a crusade. I guess the one thing I can't figure out is that if Walter Tirel did kill the king, even accidentally, why wasn't he pursued into France and made to answer for his error, which I imagine would have been pretty drastic in that day and age.

This book was not easy to read, and all I can say is I'm glad I have read other things during this time period otherwise I would have been completely lost. The role of the church is something completely foreign to me that would help if I understood that more. Otherwise this book was difficult for me to understand, and I don't blame the author for that. It is my own lack of knowledge about these ancient time, and so I am looking forward to moving ahead with hopefully some authors that write things in a more simple fashion, not to mention easy and entertaining (for me at least). . more


King, Rufus - History

Rufus King was an American lawyer who was also a renowned politician and diplomat. King was assigned to Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention with the distinction of being the only delegate coming from Massachusetts. He occupied the following posts during his lifetime: New York representative in the U.S. Senate, Minister to Great Britain and the candidate for Vice Presidency from the Federal party-list between the years 1804 to 1808 respectively. He was also a Federalist candidate for President of the U.S.A on the year 1816.

Born at Scarborough, formerly a part of Massachusetts, now located at Maine, he was the offspring of two well-off famer-turned-businesspeople. His parents, Sabilla Blagden and Richard King, inhabited Dustan Landing and made a lot of money and acquired a lot of properties in the year of King's birth. The success and financial abundance of his father brought envy and resentment to their neighbors so that when the Stamp Act 1765 was approved, their house was broken into and every piece of furniture they had was vandalized. No one was penalized for the crime and a year after that unfortunate incident, their barn was burned to the ground.


King went to The Governor's Academy and Harvard College and completed his post- secondary education in 1777. While he was under the apprenticeship of Theophilus Parsons, the Revolutionary War in America broke out and he volunteered for militia duty. During the Battle of Rhode Island, he became a major and assistant to Gen. Sullivan. After the war, he resumed his studies under Parsons and became a lawyer by 1780 and started to practice his profession at Newburyport in Massachusetts. He became the youngest delegate of the Confederation Congress from years 1784-1787.

He was assigned to attend the Federal Constitutional Convention on 1787 at Philadelphia where he was able to acquaint himself with Alexander Hamilton and worked with him on the Committee of Style and Arrangement. He went home and made the Constitution be ratified with another major goal of being elected as Senator. The Constitution was ratified but he lost the elections.


Rufus King

The name of Rufus King stands high in our history, as that of. a statesman, orator, and diplomatist of rare powers. He was born in 1755, at Scarborough, Maine, where his father was a wealthy merchant. Young King was entered at Harvard College, in 1773 but, in 1775, his collegiate pursuits were interrupted by the commencement of the Revolutionary war, the buildings appertaining to thc institution having become the barracks of the American troops. The students were, in consequence, dispersed until the autumn of the same year, when they reassembled at Concord, where they remained until the evacuation of Boston by the British forces, in 1776. In 1777 he received his degree, and immediately afterward entered as a student of law, into the office of the celebrated Theophilus Parsons, at Newburyport. Before he was admitted to the bar in 1778, Mr. King volunteered his services in the enterprise conducted by General Sullivan and Count d'Estaing against the British in Rhode Island, and acted in the capacity of aid-de-camp to thc former. In 1780 he began the practice of his profession, and soon after was elected representative of the town of Newburyport, in the legislature or General Court, as it is called, of Massachusetts, where his success paved the way to a seat in the old Congress in 1784. His most celebrated effort in the legislature was made in that year, on the occasion of the recommendation by Congress to the several States to grant to the general government a five percent. impost, a compliance with which he advocated with great power and zeal. he was re-elected a member of Congress in 1785 and 1786. In the latter year, he was sent by Congress, with Mr. Monroe, to the legislature of Pennsylvania, to remonstrate against one of its proceedings. A day was appointed for them to address the legislature, on Which Mr. King rose first to speak but, before he could open his lips, he lost the command of his faculties, and, in his confusion, barely retained presence of mind enough to request Mr. Monroe to take his place. Meanwhile, he recovered his self-possession, and on rising again, after complimenting his audience by attributing his misfortune to the effect produced upon him by so august an assemblage, proceeded to deliver an elegant and masterly speech.
In 1787, when the general convention met at Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a constitution for the country, Mr. King was sent to it by the legislature of Massachusetts, and, when the convention of that State was called, in order to discuss the system of government proposed, was likewise chosen a member of it by the inhabitants of Newburyport. In both assemblies, he was in favor of the present constitution: In 1788, he removed to New York city. In 1789, he was elected a member of the New York legislature, and, during its extra session, in the summer of that year, General Schuyler and himself were chosen the first senators from the State, under the constitution of the United States. In 1794, the British treaty was made public, and, a public meeting of the citizens of New York having been called respecting it, Mr. King and General Hamilton attended to explain and defend it but the people were in such a ferment, that they were not allowed to speak. They therefore retired, and immediately commenced the publication of a series of essays upon the subject, under the signature of Camillus, the first ten of which, relating to the permanent articles of the treaty, were written by General Hamilton, and the remainder, relative to the commercial and maritime articles, by Mr. King. The most celebrated speech made by Mr. .King, in the Senate of the United States, was in this year, concerning a petition which had been presented by some of the citizens of Pennsylvania against the right of Albert Gallatin to take a seat in the Senate, to which he had been chosen by that State, on the ground of want of legal qualification, in consequence of not having been a citizen of the United States for the requisite number of years. Mr. King spoke in support of the petition, and in answer to a speech of Aaron Burr in favor of Mr. Gallatin. Mr. Gallatin was excluded.
In the spring of 1796, Mr. King was appointed, by President Washington, minister plenipotentiary to the court of St. James, having previously declined the offer of the department of state. The functions of that post he continued to discharge until 1803, when he returned home. In 1813, he was a third time sent to the senate by the legislature of New York, at a period when the nation was involved in hostilities with Great Britain. His speech on the burning of Washington by the enemy, was one of his most eloquent displays, and teemed with sentiments which had echoes from all parties. In 1816, while engaged with his senatorial duties at Washington, he was proposed as a candidate for the chief magistracy of the State of New York, by a convention of delegates from several of its counties. The nomination was made without his knowledge, and it was with great reluctance that he acceded to it, at the earnest solicitation of his friends. He was not, however, elected. In 1820, he was re-elected to the Senate of the United States, where he continued until the expiration of the term, in March, 1825. Several of the laws which he proposed and carried, in that interval, were of great consequence. In the famous Missouri question, he took the lead. On his withdrawal from the Senate, he accepted from President Adams the appointment of minister plenipotentiary at the court of London. During the voyage to England, his health was sensibly impaired. He remained abroad a twelvemonth, but his illness impeded the performance of his official duties, and proved fatal soon after his return home. He died like a Christian philosopher, April 29, 1827, in the seventy-third year of his age.
In person, Mr. King was somewhat above the middle size, and well proportioned. His countenance was frank, manly, and beaming with intelligence. His orations and writings were remarkable for their condensation and force of style. His conversation was brilliant and varied. As a statesman, all parties agreed that he ranked among the first of his age.


Watch the video: Rufus King - The Final Federalist


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