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Rufus King - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019

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Birth: March 24, 1755
Death: April 29, 1827 (age 72)
Colony: Massachusetts
Occupation: Merchant, Politician
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 32); served as United States Minister to the United Kingdom (1796-1803 and 1825-1826); and served as a United States Senator from New York (1813-1825)

Rufus King Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

Rufus King was born in area of Massachusetts that today is part of the state of Maine. King attended Harvard College, and after graduating in 1777, he began studying law. However, King's studies were interrupted by the Revolutionary War when King volunteered for the Massachusetts Militia and participated in the Battle of Rhode Island. By 1780, King had returned home, completed his legal studies and began a legal practice in Massachusetts. In 1783, King was elected to the Massachusetts General Court, and he held the position until being elected to the Continental Congress (Congress of the Confederation) in 1784.

In 1787, King was named a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention, King represented Massachusetts and played a prominent role as a gifted orator and one of the few delegates to attend every single session. King also sat on the Committee of Style and Arrangement along with Alexander Hamilton who became a friend and political ally and helped to debate, draft and sign the United States Constitution

Following the Constitutional Convention, King decided to abandon his law practice, and he moved to New York City to focus on a political career. King was elected to the United States Senate representing New York in 1789 and became a prominent voice within Federalist Party. King left the U.S. Senate in 1796 when George Washington named him Minister to the United Kingdom, a position he held for a total of nearly 10 years across multiple Presidential administrations. King returned to New York City, and he ran several unsuccessful campaigns including for Governor of New York and President of the United States, but he did win back his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1813 which he held until 1825. King passed away at the age of 72 in 1827 at his home in New York.

Rufus King in Philadelphia

King first lived in Philadelphia when he helped to write the United States Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in 1787 at Independence Hall. While working on the Constitution, King stayed at City Tavern. King also worked in Congress Hall as a United States Senator while Philadelphia was the Capital city of the United States. For a time, King was also the Director of The First Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating King for his role in the creation of the United States Constitution in the Signers' Hall exhibit of the National Constitution Center. Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as King who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Congress Hall, The First Bank of the United States, Signers' Garden and Independence Hall are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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