James G. King

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James Gore King
James G. King.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1851
Preceded byDudley S. Gregory
Succeeded byRodman M. Price
Personal details
Born(1791-05-08)May 8, 1791
New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 3, 1853(1853-10-03) (aged 62)
Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyWhig
Sarah Rogers Gracie
(m. 1813; his death 1853)
ParentsRufus King
Mary Alsop King
Alma materHarvard College
Litchfield Law School

James Gore King (May 8, 1791 – October 3, 1853) was an American businessman and Whig Party politician who represented New Jersey's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives for one term from 1849 to 1851.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

James Gore King was born in New York City on May 8, 1791 at the residence of his maternal grandfather.[2] He was the third son of Mary (née Alsop) King and Rufus King.[3] Among his siblings were brothers John Alsop King, who served as Governor of New York, and Charles King, the president of Columbia University, and Edward King, an Ohio politician.[1]

His father served as the first U.S. Senator from New York and was the 3rd and 8th U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom under Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams.[4]

His paternal grandparents were Isabella (née Bragdon) King and Richard King, a prosperous farmer-merchant. Among his extended family were uncles William King, who served as the first Governor of Maine, and Cyrus King, who was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.[5] His mother was the only child of his maternal grandparents, Mary (née Frogat) Alsop and John Alsop, a prominent merchant and Continental Congressman.[6]

He pursued classical studies in England and France, returned to United States and graduated from Harvard University in 1810.[7] He studied law under Peter van Schaack of Kinderhook,[2] followed by study at the Litchfield Law School in Connecticut.[8]


During the War of 1812, he served as assistant adjutant general of the New York Militia,[1] under Major General Ebenezer Stevens.[2]

After the war, he opened a commission house in New York City with his father-in-law, Archibald Gracie, under the name James G. King and Company. Three years later in 1818, he moved to Liverpool, England and established King & Gracie[7] with his brother-in-law, Archibald Gracie Jr., where he established "a high reputation for business ability, and, despite the severe financial crisis of 1822, 1823, and 1824, was able to meet all his obligations and to finally close up the affairs of his house on a satisfactory basis."[2] While in Liverpool, he met and eventually became a close friend of John Jacob Astor (later serving as an executor of his will), who offered him the presidency of the American Fur Company, which King declined.[2]

In 1824, he returned to New York City and engaged in banking as a partner in the firm of Prime & Ward (thereafter Prime, Ward & King), with residence in Weehawken, New Jersey. In 1835, he succeeded Eleazar Lord to become president of the Erie Railroad, although he did not collect a salary. He served until 1837, when by his visit to London he secured the loan to American bankers of $1,000,000 from the governors of the Bank of England.[7]

Tenure in United States Congress[edit]

In 1834, he was a candidate for Congress in New York City, but was defeated.[2]

King was elected as a Whig to Congress, succeeding fellow Whig Dudley S. Gregory, the former mayor of Jersey City. He served alongside his older brother John in office from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1851, but declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1850 and was succeeded by Democrat Rodman M. Price (who later served as the 17th Governor of New Jersey after leaving Congress in 1853).[7] While in Congress, he was a member of the Committee of Commerce,[9] and he opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.[2]

Upon the ascendancy of Millard Fillmore to the presidency after Zachary Taylor's death in 1850, King was reportedly considered for United States Secretary of the Treasury, but informed Fillmore that he did not wish to serve as he had planned on retiring from public service and was, in fact, leaving Congress at the end of the term.[2]

Later career[edit]

After leaving Congress, he resumed the banking business. By this time the firm he had worked for had undergone dissolution, and so was succeeded by the House of James G. King & Son.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Portrait of his wife, Sarah Rogers Gracie King, by Thomas Sully, 1831.

On February 4, 1813, King was married to Sarah Rogers Gracie (1791–1878), the daughter of Archibald Gracie, a Scottish-born shipping magnate and early American businessman and merchant in New York City and Virginia.[2] Together, they were the parents of eleven children, many of whom married into prominent colonial families, including:[2]

  • Caroline King (1813–1863), who married Denning Duer, a son of William Alexander Duer.[2]
  • James Gore King, Jr. (1819–1867), who married his first cousin, Caroline King, a daughter of John Alsop King.[2]
  • Archibald Gracie King (1821–1897), who married Elizabeth Denning Duer, a daughter of William Alexander Duer.[2]
  • Mary King (1826–1890), who married Edgar Henry Richards in 1856.[2]
  • Frederika Gore King (1829–1916), who married Bancroft Davis, an American lawyer, judge, diplomat, and president of Newburgh and New York Railway Company.[2]
  • Edward King (1833–1908), who married Isabella Ramsay Cochrane in 1858. After her death, he married Elizabeth Fisher.[2]
  • Fanny King (1836–1905), who married James Latimer McLane, brother of Robert Milligan McLane, in 1859.[2]

King died of a "congestion of the lungs" on October 3, 1853 at his country place, "Highwood," near Weehawken, New Jersey,[9] which he had purchased in 1832.[2] He was interred in the churchyard of Grace Church, Jamaica, New York.[10][7]


Through his son Archibald, he was the grandfather of May Denning King (1848–1925), who married John King Van Rensselaer, a son of Henry Bell Van Rensselaer and grandson of Stephen Van Rensselaer III, the patroon of Rensselaerwyck.[11] His great-great-granddaughter Ellin Travers Mackay married Irving Berlin. Another great-great-grandchild was Wolcott Gibbs, who was also a direct descendant of Martin Van Buren (James Gore King's grandson married Martin Van Buren's granddaughter, and Wolcott Gibbs was their grandson).[2]

Through his youngest daughter Fanny, he was the grandfather of Robert McLane, who served as the 32nd Mayor of Baltimore.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "James Gore King | American banker". britannica.com. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Society, National American (1907). Americana, American Historical Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 1. pp. 402–403. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  3. ^ Adams, John (July 4, 2016). Papers of John Adams, Volume 18: December 1785 - January 1787. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674545076. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  4. ^ "KING, Rufus - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  5. ^ Passos, John Dos (2011). The Men Who Made the Nation: Architects of the Young Republic 1782–1802. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing. p. 480.
  6. ^ York, Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New (1905). The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest. V. 1-. The Saint Nicholas Society. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e "KING, James Gore - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Litchfield Ledger - Student". www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Obituaries. James G. King, Esq". The New York Times. 5 October 1853. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  10. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "King, Rufus". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Robert G. (1911). "Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs: Van Rensselaer Vol. IV". www.schenectadyhistory.org. Schenectady County Public Library. pp. 1814–1821. Retrieved 6 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
President of New York and Erie Railroad
1835 – 1839
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th congressional district

1849 – 1851
Succeeded by