Preston King (politician)

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Preston King
Preston King - Brady-Handy.jpg
Photograph of King by Mathew Brady, c. 1855–1865.
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1863
Preceded byHamilton Fish
Succeeded byEdwin D. Morgan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1847
Preceded byThomas C. Chittenden
Succeeded byWilliam Collins
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1853
Preceded byWilliam Collins
Succeeded byPeter Rowe
Personal details
Born(1806-10-14)October 14, 1806
Ogdensburg, New York
DiedNovember 12, 1865(1865-11-12) (aged 59)
New York Harbor, New York City, New York
Political partyDemocrat, Free Soil, Republican

Preston King (October 14, 1806 – November 12, 1865) was a United States Representative and Senator from New York.

Early life[edit]

King was born in Ogdensburg, New York on October 14, 1806.[1] He was the illegitimate son of John King and Margaret Galloway.[2][3] At an early age, he was committed to the guardianship of Louis Hasbrouck, an Ogdensburg lawyer.[4]

He pursued classical studies and graduated from Union College in 1827,[5] where he was an early member of The Kappa Alpha Society. He studied law and was admitted to the bar.[6]


Preston King

In 1830, he established the St. Lawrence Republican and was Postmaster of Ogdensburg from 1831 to 1834 during the administration of President Martin Van Buren.[7] He was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly (St. Lawrence Co.) from 1835 to 1838, sitting in the 58th, 59th, 60th and 61st New York State Legislatures.[6]

King was elected as a Democrat to the 28th and 29th United States Congresses, holding office from March 4, 1843, to March 3, 1847. He was Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Invalid Pensions (29th Congress).[6] In 1847, when there was an open rupture between the Barnburners and Hunkers at the Democratic State Convention, King was made chairman of the former and Robert H. Morris of the latter.[7]

He was elected as a Free Soiler to the 31st and 32nd United States Congresses, holding office from March 4, 1849, to March 3, 1853.[6]

He was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in February 1857, and served from March 4, 1857, to March 4, 1863. He was Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Revolutionary Claims (37th Congress).[6]

Later career[edit]

Afterwards he resumed the practice of law, was considered for the Republican vice-presidential nomination in 1860 and was a presidential elector on the Abraham Lincoln ticket in 1864,[6] where he was "largely instrumental in procuring the nomination of Andrew Johnson for the Vice-Presidency.[7] After the death of President Lincoln, he served as effective White House Chief of Staff during the early days of the Johnson Administration.[7]

On August 14, 1865, King was appointed by President Andrew Johnson Collector of the Port of New York, in an effort to eliminate corruption in the Port of New York and to heal divisions within the Republican Party.[8] After his death, he was succeeded by acting Collector Charles P. Clinch (brother-in-law of Alexander Turney Stewart).[9]

Personal life[edit]

According to The New York Times, he was "remarkable for obesity. Though short of stature--only five feet six inches--he weighed over two hundred and fifty pounds. He tried hard to reduce his flesh by a course of dieting, but failed. Latterly, he took little exercise, but did a great deal of toilsome mind work."[7]

Despairing of success, King committed suicide by tying a bag of bullets around his neck and leaping from a ferryboat in New York Harbor on November 13, 1865.[10] After a funeral at the Ogdensburg Episcopal Church, his remains were buried alongside his father and mother at the City Cemetery in Ogdensburg.[11]


  1. ^ Johnson, Rossiter; Brown, John Howard (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans ... Biographical Soceity. p. 236. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Senator Preston King and Congressman John Fine". Thousand Islands Life. November 13, 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  3. ^ Hayward, Silvanus (1881). History of the Town of Gilsum, New Hampshire: From 1752 to 1879. Published by the author. p. 410. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Preston King -- Simeon Smith papers, 1829-1893 MSS. COLL. NO. 013" (PDF). St. Lawrence University. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  5. ^ Who Was Who in America. Marquis-Who's Who. 1963. p. 295. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "KING, Preston - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "The Late Preston King" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 November 1865. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  8. ^ "The Collectorship of New-York" (PDF). The New York Times. August 15, 1865. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Charles P. Clinch Dead; His Thirty-Eight Years in the Custom-House" (PDF). The New York Times. 17 December 1880. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Preston King" (PDF). The New York Times. 24 November 1865. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Funeral of Preston King" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 May 1866. Retrieved 21 November 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas C. Chittenden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
William Collins
Preceded by
William Collins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Peter Rowe
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Hamilton Fish
U.S. senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: William H. Seward and Ira Harris
Succeeded by
Edwin D. Morgan
Government offices
Preceded by
Simeon Draper
Collector of the Port of New York
Succeeded by
Charles P. Clinch