1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/King, Rufus

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KING, RUFUS (1755–1827), American political leader, was born on the 24th of March 1755 at Scarborough, Maine, then a part of Massachusetts. He graduated at Harvard in 1777, read law at Newburyport, Mass., with Theophilus Parsons, and was admitted to the bar in 1780. He served in the Massachusetts General Court in 1783–1784 and in the Confederation Congress in 1784–1787. During these critical years he adopted the “states’ rights” attitude. It was largely through his efforts that the General Court in 1784 rejected the amendment to the Articles of Confederation authorizing Congress to levy a 5% impost. He was one of the three Massachusetts delegates in Congress in 1785 who refused to present the resolution of the General Court proposing a convention to amend the articles. He was also out of sympathy with the meeting at Annapolis in 1786. He did good service, however, in opposing the extension of slavery. Early in 1787 King was moved by the Shays Rebellion and by the influence of Alexander Hamilton to take a broader view of the general situation, and it was he who introduced the resolution in Congress, on the 21st of February 1787, sanctioning the call for the Philadelphia constitutional convention. In the convention he supported the large-state party, favoured a strong executive, advocated the suppression of the slave trade, and opposed the counting of slaves in determining the apportionment of representatives. In 1788 he was one of the most influential members of the Massachusetts convention which ratified the Federal Constitution. He married Mary Alsop (1769–1819) of New York in 1786 and removed to that city in 1788. He was elected a member of the New York Assembly in the spring of 1789, and at a special session of the legislature held in July of that year was chosen one of the first representatives of New York in the United States Senate. In this body he served in 1789–1796, supported Hamilton’s financial measures, Washington’s neutrality proclamation and the Jay Treaty, and became one of the recognized leaders of the Federalist party. He was minister to Great Britain in 1796–1803 and again in 1825–1826, and was the Federalist candidate for vice-president in 1804 and 1808, and for president in 1816, when he received 34 electoral votes to 183 cast for Monroe. He was again returned to the Senate in 1813, and was re-elected in 1819 as the result of a struggle between the Van Buren and Clinton factions of the Democratic-Republican party. In the Missouri Compromise debates he supported the anti-slavery programme in the main, but for constitutional reasons voted against the second clause of the Tallmadge Amendment providing that all slaves born in the state after its admission into the Union should be free at the age of twenty-five years. He died at Jamaica, Long Island, on the 29th of April 1827.

The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, begun about 1850 by his son, Charles King, was completed by his grandson, Charles R. King, and published in six volumes (New York, 1894–1900).

Rufus King’s son, John Alsop King (1788–1867), was educated at Harrow and in Paris, served in the war of 1812 as a lieutenant of a cavalry company, and was a member of the New York Assembly in 1819–1821 and of the New York Senate in 1823. When his father was sent as minister to Great Britain in 1825 he accompanied him as secretary of the American legation, and when his father returned home on account of ill health he remained as chargé d’affaires until August 1826. He was a member of the New York Assembly again in 1832 and in 1840, was a Whig representative in Congress in 1849–1851, and in 1857–1859 was governor of New York State. He was a prominent member of the Republican party, and in 1861 was a delegate to the Peace Conference in Washington.

Another son, Charles King (1789–1867), was also educated abroad, was captain of a volunteer regiment in the early part of the war of 1812, and served in 1814 in the New York Assembly, and after working for some years as a journalist was president of Columbia College in 1849–1864.

A third son, James Gore King (1791–1853), was an assistant adjutant-general in the war of 1812, was a banker in Liverpool and afterwards in New York, and was president of the New York & Erie railroad until 1837, when by his visit to London he secured the loan to American bankers of £1,000,000 from the governors of the Bank of England. In 1849–1851 he was a representative in Congress from New Jersey.

Charles King’s son, Rufus King (1814–1876), graduated at the U.S. Military Academy in 1833, served for three years in the engineer corps, and, after resigning from the army, became assistant engineer of the New York & Erie railroad. He was adjutant-general of New York state in 1839–1843, and became a brigadier-general of volunteers in the Union army in 1861, commanded a division in Virginia in 1862–1863, and, being compelled by ill health to resign from the army, was U.S. minister to the Papal States in 1863–1867.

His son, Charles King (b. 1844), served in the artillery until 1870 and in the cavalry until 1879; he was appointed brigadier-general U.S. Volunteers in the Spanish War in 1898, and served in the Philippines. He wrote Famous and Decisive Battles (1884), Campaigning with Crook (1890), and many popular romances of military life.