In 1786, on this day the fourteenth President of the United States, William Rufus DeVane King (pictured) was born in Sampson County, North Carolina.
William R. King
14th US PresidentAfter graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was admitted to the bar in 1806. He was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons and city solicitor of Wilmington, North Carolina, before his election to the Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses. He resigned to serve as Secretary of the Legation to William Pinkney at Naples, Italy, and later at St. Petersburg, Russia. He returned to the United States and purchased property in Alabama where he and his relatives were reportedly one of the largest slave-holding families, collectively owning as many as five hundred slaves.
He was a delegate to the convention which organized the Alabama state government, and upon the admission of Alabama as a State he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the United States Senate, and was reelected as a Jacksonian in 1822, 1828, 1834, and 1841, serving from December 14, 1819, until April 15, 1844, when he resigned. He served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate during the 24th through 27th Congresses. King was Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Commerce. He was Minister to France from 1844 to 1846.
King was elected Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce in 1852. But fate intervened when Pierce and his family were crushed to death when the train car that they had boarded in Boston was derailed and then rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts. But King was dying of tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease just six weeks later, so that the presidency fell to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, David Rice Atchison.