Senator, statesman, and U.S. Vice President William Rufus King of Dallas County served in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years. In 1852, King was elected vice president on the ticket with Franklin Pierce. While recovering from illness in Cuba, King became the only member of the U.S. executive branch to ever have been sworn into office on foreign soil. He passed away less than a month after being inaugurated.
William Rufus King was born on April 7, 1786, to William and Margaret DeVane King on the family plantation in Sampson County, North Carolina. King was educated in private schools and entered the University of North Carolina in 1801, where he joined the Philanthropic Society, an important literary student association. In 1804, King left the university before completing his education to pursue the study of law. He spent the next several years under the tutelage of prominent attorney William Duffy in his Fayetteville law offices. In addition to training in the law, Duffy also worked with King to develop his political skills. In 1808, King opened his own law office in the Clinton, in Samson County. Soon after, he won election to a seat in the North Carolina House of Commons. In 1811, he was elected to the first of three consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he established himself as a supporter of President James Madison. He was also a firm advocate of the War of 1812.