Rufus King

Rufus King, (1755-1827), Signer of the United States Constitution

His surname should have been a clue to his party loyalty, and his family’s experience in the troubled times of the pre-Revolutionary War era should have predicted his politics in the upcoming fight. Born to a wealthy Massachusetts merchant and a staunch Tory, young Rufus saw an angry mob descend on his home, break in, and ransack the family possessions, because of his father’s supported of the Stamp Tax and of the King’s and Parliament’s right to levy it. His father died a year later. King attended Harvard, where he became a staunch patriot, graduating in 1777. After reading law a short while, he joined the militia, thus turning his back on the family loyalties. Little could he have known then, the providential events that would define his life, henceforth.

During a break in the fighting in Rhode Island, he got up from breakfast to investigate cannon fire in the distance. The soldier who sat in his place at the table moments later, was struck by an artillery shell which crashed through the wall and smashed his foot, resulting in amputation. As a lawyer after the war, King developed a real gift for making speeches, and used his talent successfully as a Massachusetts legislator. King became one of the best known political orators of his day. Apparently his persuasive powers worked in personal matters as well for he married a beautiful sixteen year old New York heiress, Mary Alsop, and, combined with the inheritance from his Tory father, established a comfortable home, King Manor, today a museum devoted to his memory.