Notes for Rufus King: 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.
In 1783, Rufus King was elected a member of the Massachusetts General Court, and in 1784 was made a delegate to the Continental Congress at Trenton, being returned in 1785 and i 786. He took a very active part in the deliberations of that body, and was a member of several important committees. In 1787, he was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Philadelphia Convention which made the present Constitution of the Republic. In this struggle, upon which depended the future of the young commonwealth, King was easily one of the great leaders. After the final draft had been made and the bill referred to the thirteen States for their several adoption, he was sent to Massachusetts by Congress to secure its passage by that State, which occurred in 1788. On March 31, 1786, he married Mary Alsop, daughter of John Alsop, a member of the First Continental Congress from New York, to which State he transferred his domicile in 1789, shortly after Massachusetts had adopted the Constitution. He had been so busy with his political duties that he had had no time to make himself acquainted with the people of his new home. Great, therefore, was his surprise in the same year when they elected him to the New York Assembly, and greater still, a few days after joining that body, when made their choice, with Philip Schuyler for colleague, as Senator from the Empire State to the First Congress of the nation.
His elevation to the Senate disclosed to him the fact that he was as much respected in New York as in Massachusetts. His career at Washington was marked by ability and fidelity, as well as by infinite patience. He was always in his seat, and attended every session of the committees to which he belonged. He took a strong part in the important debates of the period, and was instrumental in shaping the course of legislation as well as the policy of the Government. Now that more than a century has elapsed, it is easy to see that he was one of the great men of that body, and that to him was due much of the welfare which the nation subsequently enjoyed. In 1796, he was chosen by George Washington to be Minister to the Court of St. James, where he remained during the administration of Adams and for two years of Jefferson's. Much work devolved upon the Minister at that time, more, in fact, than is the case to-day, but King, with characteristic industry, attended to every matter, great and small, working sometimes eighteen and twenty hours out of the twentyfour. He stood the strain for seven years, and then, finding that his health was giving way, he was relieved at his own request. Upon his return to New York, he settled at Jamaica, L. I., where his mansion house was soon the centre of a large literary and political circle. Here for several years he led a studious but busy life, expressing himself with force upon the public questions which arose from year to year. In all of these utterances he was actuated by the sense of right, and frequently took issue with his own party. In 1813, he was again chosen by the Legislature of New York as Senator of the United States, and he was re-elected for the third time in 1820, nearly unanimously, only three votes dissenting. As early as 1785, he took strong grounds against slavery and its extension. Later he stanchly advocated the plan of converting the proceeds of the sale of Government lands into a fund for the purpose of emancipating slaves or for their removal, as might be desired by the individual States. In 1825, he was again appointed Minister to England, where he was heartily welcomed, but after a few months he found that his declining strength was insufficient to meet the labors of the office, and, with the deep conscientiousness which marked his life, he resigned and returned home. He died in 1827, leaving five sons.
[Brøderbund WFT Vol. 4, Ed. 1, Tree #1523, Date of Import: Jan 19, 2004]
Rufus King was born at Scarboro, 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 delegated at Philadelphia, but was also one of the most important. He numbered among the most capable orators. Furthermore, he attented 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 empressment of sailors. Although King was unable to bring about 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 Cotedworth 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 Manner, a Long Island estate he had purchased in 1805. During the War of 1812, he was again elected to the U.S. Senate (1813-1825) 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 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 Britian. 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, 1827, he died. Surviving him were several offspring, some of whom also gained distinction. He was laid to rest near King Manner in the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church, Jamaica, Long Island, NY.
More About Rufus King: Date born 2: March 24, 1755, Scarboro, Mass (present Maine).574 Burial: April 1827, Grace Churchyard, Jamaica, Long Island. Died 2: April 29, 1827, Jamaica, L.I., New York.574 Fact 1: 1793, Signer of the Constitution of US from Mass.574
More About Rufus King and Mary Alsop: Marriage 1: November 30, 1786, New York City, New York. Marriage 2: March 30, 1786, New York, NY.574
Children of Rufus King and Mary Alsop are:
+John Alsop King, b. January 03, 1788, New York City, NY, d. July 07, 1867, Jamaica,.