Join us for our annual FREE Fall Festival! Saturday, October 12th, 12-4pm!

Please note the museum will be closed 10/14.

The King Family

Meet the King Family

Click the name to learn about each family member.

Rufus King

“I have yet to learn that one man can make a slave of another. If one man cannot do so, no number of individuals can have any better right to do it."
– Rufus King, February 11, 1820
Family_RufusRufus King was the eldest son of a prosperous Maine merchant. After graduating at the top of his class at Harvard in 1777 and briefly serving in the American Revolution in Rhode Island, King studied law in Massachusetts. He proved a good lawyer and was quickly elected into public service. He was a member of the Massachusetts state legislature and a representative in the Confederation Congress and 1787 he helped to frame, sign, and ratify the U.S. Constitution. Shortly thereafter King moved to New York City and was elected to the Senate after one month of residency. As a member of the Federalist Party in the Senate, he strove to implement the ideas of strong central government and prompt payment of national debt that his good friend Alexander Hamilton advocated.

In 1796 he was appointed ambassador to Great Britain where he helped shape American maritime policy, serving in the post until 1803, through the administrations of Presidents Washington, Adams and Jefferson. He retired from public life to King Manor in 1806 but eventually returned to the Senate during the tumultuous years of the War of 1812. During the conflict Rufus stressed country over party and became a rallying point for unity. He was the last standard bearer for the Federalist Party and was defeated in the 1816 presidential election against James Monroe.

A lifelong anti-slavery advocate, King returned to the Senate in his twilight years to speak out against the spread of slavery during the debates on the Missouri Compromise, 1819-1821. On February 11th, 1820 he stood up on the Senate floor and declared, “I have yet to learn that one man can make a slave of another. If one man cannot do so, no number of individuals can have any better right to do it.” King’s words were radical at the time and earned him both respect and ire from his fellow Congressmen.

King always had the idea of settling on his country estate and retiring, but his nation always found more work for the civic leader. He lived off and on at King Manor until his death in 1827. He was buried next to his wife Mary at Grace Episcopal Church, which is a block east of King Manor on Jamaica Avenue.

Mary Alsop King

“A most estimable lady, was remarkable for her personal beauty; her motions were all grace, her bearing gracious, her voice musical, and her education exceptional."
– Historic families of America by Walter W. Spooner, 1907
Family_MaryMary Alsop King was born on October 17, 1769. Her father John Alsop was a prominent New York citizen. He was a prosperous merchant and served as a delegate to the first two Continental Congresses. When her mother Mary Frogat Alsop died at the age of twenty-eight, little Mary, an only child, was just three years old. Her father never remarried. On March 30, 1786, Mary married Rufus King. She gave birth to seven children, John Alsop (1788-1867), Charles (1789 - 1867), Caroline (1790 - 1793), James Gore (1791 - 1853), Henry (b & d 1792), Edward (1795 - 1836), and Frederick (1802 - 1829). Mary died on June 5, 1819, not yet fifty years old, and is buried in the Grace Episcopal Churchyard in Jamaica, New York.

John Alsop King

“It is the settled, calm and deliberate conviction and judgment of the vast majority of the people of that State [New York], that the soil of freedom should never by their vote or act become the resting-place of slavery.”
– June 4, 1850
Family_JohnThe eldest child of Rufus King (1755-1827) and Mary Alsop King (1769-1819), John purchased King Manor from his father’s estate in 1827 and continued to use the property as a working farm. John followed in his father’s footsteps into politics and was elected twice to the New York State Assembly and Senate, where he spoke out against the 1840 “gag rule” that existed to stop the receipt of abolitionist petitions to Congress.

In 1849 John was elected to Congress where he established his reputation as an opponent of slavery. He also opposed connecting the admission of free states to the Union with that of slave states. John was Governor of New York from 1857-59, and fought for the arrest of “Blackbirders,” men who seized free black New Yorkers and sold them into slavery. Not surprisingly, the King Manor estate was referred to as the “Governor’s House” and retained this name well into the 20th century. John was instrumental in the formation of the Republican Party and cast his vote as an elector-at-large for Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Charles King

“The Presidential term of Dr. [Charles] King has been distinguished by… much development and expansion of [Columbia College’s] educational system…”
– Trustees of Columbia College, 1864
Charles was 18 years old, studying in Europe when the Kings moved into their home in Jamaica. He was the editor of a newspaper named New York American, and then became the President of Columbia College.

To see a bio of Charles King on the Columbia University website, click here.

James Gore King

“James...left behind him an enviable name and reputation for urbanity, intelligence, promptness and integrity. He made many fast and valuable friends... and retained their good will and confidence unabated to the day of his death.”
– Charles King, 1864
Family_JamesJames was 16 years old, attending a boarding school in France when the Kings moved into their home in Jamaica. After serving in the War of 1812, he grew up to be a financier and banker. One of his greatest accomplishments was helping secure a loan from Britain to help relieve the United States Panic of 1837. He also played an important role in completing the building of the New York and Erie railroad.

Edward King

“…where as I hear, he [Edward] is considered to be a great man.”
– Rufus King to Frederick King, March 2, 1817
Family_EdwardEdward was twelve years old when the Kings moved into their home in Jamaica. When Edward grew up, he became a lawyer. In 1815 he moved to Ohio, where he became a state legislator and founded the Cincinnati Law School.

Frederick King

“Frederick, or little Fitty as he calls himself, has become a great chatterbox, every word he hears, he repeats and he really speaks much plainer now than Edward did at three years old.”
– Mary King, December 6, 1803
Frederick was three years old when the Kings moved into their home in Jamaica. When Frederick grew up, he became a successful doctor who was famous for his lectures on anatomy. He died of yellow fever after treating quarantined sailors.