William R. King was born in Sampson County North Carolina on April 7th 1786 to a wealthy family. His father owned a large plantation and served on the state delegation to the Constitutional Convention. King studied law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and after working with William Duffy he passed the bar in 1806. King was also an active member of the Freemasons.
In 1807 King was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons and served until 1809. He was the solicitor for the city of Wilmington and then was elected to Congress in 1811 where he served until 1816. He resigned to serve as the Legation to William Pinkney on a mission to Russia. After returning to the United States he purchased a plot of land in the territory of Alabama where he established a large cotton plantation, with as many as 500 slaves. He was also one of the founders of the city of Selma.
King became a delegate to the statehood convention in Alabama and after they were admitted to the Union he was elected to the Senate as a Democrat-Republican and served until 1844. From 1844 until 1846 he served as the Minister to France during the Tyler and Polk administrations. In 1848 he was appointed to fill the seat of Arthur Bagby and served until 1852. During the period he became heavily involved in the Compromise of 1850 supporting the slave states during the negotiations. When Millard Fillmore became President King was appointed to the position of President Pro Tempore, the surrogate Vice President. During this time he worked to block any anti slavery bills.
In 1851 King was nominated by the Democrats to be Vice President. He had traveled to Cuba due to health reasons, he suffered from tuberculosis, so it was by a special act of Congress that he was allowed to take the oath of office outside of the United States, he is the only member of the Executive Branch to have done so. King returned to Alabama but died two days later, making him the shortest serving of the Vice Presidents who died in office (47 days), Tyler is still the shortest serving Vice President. He never did any duties as Vice President nor entered the Senate chambers while in the office. The position of Vice President remained vacant until the election of 1856.
As far as Vice Presidents go, William King has practically no legacy at all except for a persistent rumor that he was Gay. Some even claim that he had an ongoing relationship with James Buchannan, the Bachelor President. His other legacy is he held the highest government office of anyone from Alabama.
So remember, when you write in Ocular Nervosa as an independent candidate I promise to do my best to not die in office. And thank goodness unlucky number 13 is out of the way.