William R. King

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William Rufus de Vane King (1786-1853) was a U.S. attorney and politician, who served as Representative from North Carolina, a diplomat, a Senator from Alabama, and a Vice President of the United States.

Vice President

He elected was Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce in 1852 and took the oath of office March 24, 1853, in Havana, Cuba, where he had gone for his health, which was a privilege extended by special act of Congress. He died, however, on April 18.


Returning from diplomatic service, he resettled in Cahaba, Ala. as a planter, and became delegate to the convention which organized the State government. When Alabama became a state in 1819, he was elected as a Democratic Republican member of the United States Senate; reelected as a Democratic Republican and as a Jacksonian in 1822, 1828, 1834, and 1841, and served from December 14, 1819, until April 15, 1844, when he resigned to become Minister to France (1844-1846)

In the 22nd United States Congress, he was chairman, Committee on Public Lands (Twenty-second Congress), and was on the Committee on Commerce (Twenty-second, Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses);

He served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the 24th through 27th United States Congresses.

He appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Arthur P. Bagby and served from July 1, 1848, until his resignation on December 20, 1852, due to poor health.

He was President pro tempore of the Senate during the Thirty-first and Thirty-second Congresses; chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations (Thirty-first Congress), Committee on Pensions (Thirty-first Congress)

North Carolina

He was elected to the State house of commons 1807-1809, and then served as city solicitor of Wilmington, N.C., 1810. He was elected to the 12th, 13th and 14th Congresses of the United Statesuntil November 4, 1816, when he resigned to become secretary of the legation at Naples and later at St. Petersburg.

Early life

He was born in Sampson County, N.C., April 7, 1786; attended private schools; graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1803; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1806 and commenced practice in Clinton, N.C.;