William Rufus King, an American statesman, 13th vice president of the United States, born in Sampson co., N. 0., April 6, 1786, died in Dallas co., Ala., April 17, 1853. He entered the university of North Carolina at the age of 12, graduated in 1803, and was admitted to the bar in 1806. He was elected to the legislature in 1806, and was reelected in 1807; but at the meeting of the legislature he was appointed state solicitor for the Wilmington circuit, which office he held for two years, when he resigned. In 1809 he was again elected to the legislature. In 1810 he was elected to congress, and was twice reelected. In congress he united himself with Clay, Calhoun, and others, who advocated the war policy of Mr. Madison's administration, and voted for the declaration of war in Tune, 1812. In the spring of 1816 he resigned his seat to become secretary of legation to Naples under William Pinckney, whom he accompanied in the same capacity to St. Petersburg. In the autumn of 1818 he returned home, and removed to Dallas co., Ala., where he continued to reside until his death. In 1819 he was elected to the convention to form a constitution and a state government for Alabama, and was chosen one of the United States senators from the new state, drawing the short term of four years.
He was successively reelected in 1823, 1828, 1834, and 1840. During all this time he acted uniformly with the democratic party. In April, 1844, he was appointed by President Tyler minister to France. The proposition for the annexation of Texas was then pending, and Mr. King successfully exerted himself to prevent a joint protest of France and England against it. He returned to the United States in November, 1846. In 1848 he was again elected United States senator to fill a vacancy, and in 1849 for a full term. In 1850, on the accession of Vice President Fillmore to the presidency after the death of Gen. Taylor, Mr. King was unanimously elected president of the senate. In 1852 he was elected vice president of the United States, at the time Franklin Pierce was elected president. In January, 1853, he went to Cuba for the benefit of his health, and by a special act of congress the oath of office as vice president was administered to him by the American consul general at Havana. In April he returned home.