WILLIAM RUFUS DE VANE KING, U.S. Senator, born (d: 1853); A U.S. Representative from North Carolina, a Senator from Alabama, and the 13th Vice President of the United States. Excluding John Tyler and Andrew Johnson — both of whom ascended to the Presidency — he was the shortest-serving person to occupy that office (45 days).
He was also the “best friend” of America’s only bachelor president, James Buchanan. And he paid a political price for the closeness of that friendship. Andrew Jackson, called him “Miss Nancy,” and others referred to him as “her” and “Aunt Fancy” while Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife.” When an attempt was made to check the gossip by shipping King off as Ambassador to France, jokes circulated about the presidential “divorce.” Buchanan wrote in 1844, after King left for France:
“I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”
King was elected Vice President in 1852 and because of his poor health, traveled to Cuba. By a special act of Congress he was permitted to take the oath of office in Matanzas. Cuba on March 24 1853. His health did not improve and he returned to Alabama where he died at his plantation.