20 Ill-Fated Powerful Men in U.S. History

Portrait of Rufus King, by Gilbert Stuart (c. 1820). Wikimedia Commons.

20. Offering a dire performance, winning just three states, Rufus King was the last presidential candidate for the original faction of American government – the Federalist Party

An American lawyer, politician, and diplomat, Rufus King served as a delegate for Massachusetts at both the Continental Congress and Philadelphia Convention, becoming one of the signers of the United States Constitution in 1787. Serving as a Senator for New York on three separate occasions, including in the first Congress, King also held the position of Minister to Great Britain on two different instances. A member of the Federalist Party, running unsuccessfully in April 1816 to be Governor of New York against Daniel D. Tomkins, in the fall of the same year King was selected as the party’s presidential candidate against the Democratic-Republican Party in bizarre circumstances.

Failing to hold their own nomination caucus, demoralized after hopes of a fusion ticket with the Democratic-Republicans were dashed with the conclusion of the War of 1812, King, who had been the vice presidential nominee in 1804 and 1808, became the de facto candidate simply by default. Running an abysmal campaign against James Monroe, whose running mate coincidentally was freshly inaugurated New York Governor Daniel Tomkins, King won just three of the then-nineteen states to carry just thirty-four Electors. Following this dire performance, the Federalist Party collapsed and never contested another presidential election.