Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page
No votes yet

King, Pendleton

by William F. Sheppard, 1988

2 Apr. 1844–31 July 1913

Portrait of Pendleton King, from <i>History of the Department of State of the United States</i>,  [p. 74-75], published 1901 by the Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Presented on Pendleton King, educator, scholar, and diplomat, was born at Kings Crossroads near Stokesdale in Guilford County. His parents, John and Lydia Ann Bowman King, had nine sons. Young King attended Oak Ridge Academy and New Garden Boarding School (now Guilford College) before entering Haverford College, from which he was graduated in 1869. He taught at both Oak Ridge and New Garden, serving as principal teacher in the Boys School of the latter institution in 1870–71. King returned to Haverford for the A.M. degree in 1872 and then joined the faculty of Louisiana University, at Baton Rouge, where he taught English and natural history for three years.

After a year in Philadelphia, he spent three years in Europe, traveling and studying at the University of Berlin and in Paris. While abroad he married Helen Ninde of Fort Wayne, Ind., and had two children, Helen and Rush Ninde.

On returning to the United States, King was active in the Democratic party. In 1884, G. P. Putnam and Sons published his Life and Public Service of Grover Cleveland, a campaign biography that so impressed the subject that King was appointed first secretary in the American Legation at Constantinople. He served in Turkey from 9 Mar. 1886 to 5 June 1890, frequently as chargé d'affaires ad interim in the absence of ministers Sunset Cox and Oscar Strauss. On several occasions he was active in protecting the rights of American Jews in Palestine.

On 1 June 1894 King was appointed chief of the Bureau of Indexes and Archives of the Department of State, a post he held until 12 Dec. 1905 when commissioned as consul at Aix la Chapelle, Germany. He served in that position until his death at Giessen, Germany, of heart failure following surgery for gallstones. He was buried at Fort Wayne, Ind.

King's career was unusual in that he served in all three of the then relatively separate branches of diplomacy—the diplomatic service, the consular corps, and the Department of State. He was a bibliophile and his collection of 7,000 books, which he willed to the Greensboro Carnegie Library, was acquired by the university library in Chapel Hill in 1921–22.


Dorothy Gilbert, Guilford, a Quaker College (1937).

Pendleton King Papers (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill).

Record Group 59 (National Archives, Washington, D.C., under King's file number 123.K 581).

U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (1886–90).

Additional Resources:

Pendleton King. Life and Public Services of Grover Cleveland. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1884. (accessed June 10, 2014).

Wright, Carroll D. The Statemans Yearbook : Statistical and Historical Annual of the States of the World for the Year. New York: The MacMillan Co. 1899. [V.] (accessed June 10, 2014).

United States Department of State. History of the Department of State of the United States. Its formation and duties, together with biographies of its present officers and secretaries from the beginning. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1901. (accessed June 10, 2014).

Image Credits:

"Pendleton King."  United States Department of State.  History of the Department of State of the United States. Its formation and duties, together with biographies of its present officers and secretaries from the beginning. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1901. 74. (accessed June 10, 2014).

Origin - location: 

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at