Lawyers Hall of Fame

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2006

William Rufus King to be inducted



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William Rufus de Vane King has been selected posthumously to the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame, and will be inducted next year along with three others.

King will be inducted into the lawyers’ hall of honor along with Thomas Minott Peters, John J. Sparkman and Robert S. Vance in the spring of 2007, according to a spokesperson from the Alabama Bar Association. He will join the ranks of Oscar W. Adams, William Douglas Avant, Hugo Black, Albert John Farrah, Frank M. Johnson Jr., Annie Lola Price, Arthur D. Shores and Harry Toulmin.

King, born in Sampson County, N.C. on April 7, 1786, is buried in Live Oak Cemetery here in Selma. King was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1803. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1806, practicing in Clinton, N.C.

King was elected and served in the North Carolina House of commons, and later in Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses until he resigned in 1816. In 1818 King moved to the newly opened territory of Alabama, settling near the Alabama River in what would become Dallas County.

Instrumental in the founding of the city of Selma, when Alabama became a state in 1819 King was chosen at one of the state’s first senators. King, a slave owner, was a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson and was a loyal Unionist. In April 1844 King was appointed as Minister of France, and his assignment was preventing France and England from combining against the annexation of Texas by the United States.

Selma historian Dr. Alston Fitts said he did not know too much about King the attorney, but said King was thought well of for his diplomacy.

Having served as a Senator from Alabama, King was elected to serve as vice president of the United States, on the ticket with Franklin Pierce in 1852. Throughout the campaign King has suffered from tuberculosis. His doctors suggested he leave Washington and rest in the warm climate of Cuba, which he did in 1853.

His condition worsened and King wasn’t able to even make the inauguration. A special act of Congress allowed King to take the oath of office as Vice President while in Cuba. Less than three months later King died at his Chestnut Hill plantation.