King, Rufus – Continental Congress

People Who Called Scarborough Home

By Charlene Fenlason

Rufus King

"Rufus King" by Gilbert Stuart

“Rufus King” by Gilbert Stuart

Rufus King, the first child of Richard King and his wife Isabella Bragdon, was born 24 March 1755 in Scarborough. He was a half-brother of William and Cyrus King. After attending Dummer Academy, Rufus graduated from Harvard College in 1777. In 1778, he served in the Continental Army in the Rhode Island campaign as aide-de-camp to General John Sullivan. After his service, Rufus studied law with Theophilus Parsons in Newburyport. He was admitted to the bar in 1780 and became a member of the Massachusetts General Court. In 1784 Rufus was elected to represent Massachusetts at the Continental Congress. As a delegate to the Federal constitutional convention in Philadelphia, he served on a subcommittee that prepared the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. Rufus was a prominent opponent of the extension of slavery in the colonies.

Rufus King relocated to New York City two years after his 1786 marriage to Mary Alsop, daughter of wealthy New York merchant John Alsop. He became a member of the New York assembly and then was elected to the United States Senate, resigning in 1796 to become United States Minister to Great Britain. In 1804, he was an unsuccessful Federalist candidate for Vice President of the United States. Rufus again was elected to the United States Senate in 1813 and reelected in 1819. While serving in the senate, Rufus worked on the Missouri Compromise that permitted Maine to enter the Union as a free state. In 1816 he was an unsuccessful candidate for both Governor of New York and President of the United States. He served once again as United States Minister to Great Britain 1825-1826. With his health failing, Rufus returned to his home in New York where he died 26 April 1827.Sources

Ernst, Robert. Rufus King: American Federalist. Williamsburg, VA: The University of North Carolina Press, 1968.

Moulton, Augustus. Grandfather Tales of Scarborough. Portland, ME: Katahdin Publishing Co., 1925.


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