Rufus King Papers: Finding Aid

Processed by Huntington Library staff; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by James Ryan and Diann Benti.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2129
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© 2000
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Overview of the Collection

Title: Rufus King Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1782-1830
Collection Number: mssRK 1-607
Creator: King, Rufus, 1755-1827.
Extent: 599 pieces in 9 boxes
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2129
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence of American statesman and diplomat Rufus King (1755-1827), dating from 1782 until 1830, related to United States Department of State communications including negotiations with Great Britain; intelligence bearing on the tension between the United States and France; financial transactions with English and Dutch banking houses; and confidential letters written by American diplomatic representatives.
Language: English.

Access

Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

Administrative Information

Publication Rights

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Rufus King Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Provenance

Purchased from George D. Smith Book Company, 1927.

Custodial History

The Huntington Library has no record of the provenance of these papers, other than the immediate source: the George D. Smith Book Company (1927). This collection is not to be confused with the published correspondence of Rufus King, edited by Charles R. King, 1894-1900.

Biographical Note

Rufus King (1755-1827) American statesman and diplomatist, was born in Scarborough, Massachusetts (now Maine). He attended Harvard College, graduating in 1777; after a short interval of military service, he devoted himself to the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in 1780.
Entering public life in 1783, as a delegate from Newburyport in the Massachusetts general court, King rose rapidly to a position of prominence in the Federalist party. He was a member of the Federal Convention, and later U. S. senator from New York.
In 1796 Rufus King was called to succeed Thomas Pinckney as minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, where he remained for eight years. Again, in 1825, just as he was about to retire from public life, King was called once more to the Court of St. James, but illness forced him to return a year later, and his death occurred on April 29, 1827.

Scope and Content

This collection contains originals and contemporary copies of correspondence of American statesman and diplomat Rufus King (1755-1827), dating from 1782 until 1830, related to United States Department of State communications including negotiations with Great Britain; intelligence bearing on the tension between the United States and France; financial transactions with English and Dutch banking houses; and confidential letters written by American diplomatic representatives.
Correspondence includes letters and dispatches received by King during his tenure as American minister in London reflecting on United States foreign relations. The letters document negotiations with Great Britain related to claims and protests having to do with violations of the sovereignty of the United States (e.g. confiscation of ships and cargoes; unlawful use of American waters; impressment of American seamen); the claim of the state of Maryland to sequestered bank stock; and the execution of the 6th and 7th articles of the treaty of 1794.
The correspondence also includes intelligence reflecting tensions between the United States and France related to complaints of the directory in connection with the commercial treaties of the United States; the failure of the American commission (Pinckney, Marshall and Gerry) to France; hostilities in the West Indies: and overtures of Toussaint L'Ouverture.
As well, the letters document financial transactions with English and Dutch banking houses in connection with expenditures for diplomatic purposes, claims, salaries etc.
There are also confidential letters written from the Hague, Berlin, Lisbon, and Paris by American diplomatic representatives related to war intelligence, American foreign policy, politics at home and abroad, the Gerry-Tallyrand fiasco, and private and personal matters.
Correspondents include John Quincy Adams (52 pieces), John Dawson (9 items), Oliver Ellsworth (6 items), Elbridge Gerry (20 pieces), George Hammond (5 pieces), James Madison (6 pieces) James C. Mountflorence (39 pieces), William Vans Murray (156 pieces), Timothy Pickering (94 pieces), Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (21 items), Edmund Randolph (16 items), William Loughton Smith (47 items), Charles-Périgord Talleyrand (10 items), Oliver Wolcott (7 items), and others.
Some notable groups of letters include:
  • Murray, William Vans, to Rufus King. Letters written from 1797 to 1801, in Murray's characteristic conversational style, giving news of the shifting rulers and governments in France and the Batavian Republic.
  • Adams, John Quincy. Letters to Rufus King, giving Intelligence regarding the German states, and conditions generally in the north of Europe, 1796-1801.
  • Smith, William Loughton. Letters to Rufus King, giving Reports of disturbances along the Mediterranean, 1797-1802

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

Subjects

King, Rufus, 1755-1827 -- Archives.
United States. Department of State.
Diplomats -- United States -- Archives.
United States -- Foreign relations -- 19th century -- Sources.
United States -- History -- 1783-1865 -- Sources.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1783-1865.
West Indies -- History -- Sources.

Forms/Genres

Dispatches -- United States.
Letters (correspondence) -- United States.
Professional papers -- United States.

Alternate Authors

Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.
Gerry, Elbridge, 1744-1814.
Mountflorence, James C.
Murray, Willam Vans, 1760-1803.
Pickering, Timothy, 1745-1829.
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth, 1746-1825.
Smith, William Loughton, 1758-1812.
Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles Maurice de, prince de Bénévent, 1754-1838.
United States. Department of State.


Collection Contents

Box 1

1782 April 15-1797 March 24

Box 2

1797 April 2-1798 March 9

Box 3

1798 March 10-1798 June 6

Box 4

1798 July 1-1798 September 22

Box 5

1798 September 25-1799 May 9

Box 6

1799 May 11-1799 November 6

Box 7

1799 November 7-1800 November 25

Box 8

1800 December 4-1801 July 16

Box 9

1830 July 21-1830 November 3