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Episode 1: Alabama - The Man Who Almost Wasn't Vice President with Abi Ayres

podcast Jul 17, 2021

In this episode, Sharon is joined by Abi Ayres, and in this episode they discuss the life and legacy of William Rufus King, the 13th vice president of the United States, who served as vice president for a few weeks before his untimely death. William Rufus King’s lifelong political career was a far cry from those who are expected to follow the ethical, democratic process we uphold today, and Sharon shares how King’s social status, wealth, race, and outdated electoral systems influenced his pursuit of the “American Dream.” As a proponent of slavery and founding member of Selma, Alabama, Sharon and Abi examine the irony of the civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. on the soil of King’s former plantation one century later and discuss how we can extract the contributions of historical figures in America while also condemning their immorality. 


Link to Full Episode:


This Episode Will Teach You:

  • Meet the former vice president that served just one day of his term on U.S. soil 
  • How old do you have to be to become a U.S. Representative? 
  • How to get elected to the Senate in the 19th-century vs. modern day 
  • Did President Taylor really die from eating cherries and milk? 
  • Breaking down the hierarchy of congressional staff 
  • Recognizing the immoral actions or prominent historical figures


3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • William Rufus King was a wealthy American politician and diplomat of the early 1800’s who served as the 13th vice president of the United States. King began his career as a lawyer and went on to become elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at 24 years old, then serve as the U.S. minister in Russia and France, become appointed at the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, and eventually earned a legacy as one of the longest-serving U.S. senators as a representative of Alabama. King never married and owned a large plantation with over 500 slaves in Selma, AL, until his death. 
  • Until the 1960s, there was no formal process for replacing the vice president upon their death or their promotion to the role of president. In 1852, after climbing the political ladder for decades, William Rufus King was elected as the 13th Vice President of the United States alongside the 14th president, Franklin Pierce. Prior to the inauguration, King was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and sent to Cuba on the advice of his doctor to recover. Too ill to travel, King was sworn in as vice president while out of the country, serving his first two weeks in office from Cuba before making the 11-day voyage home only to die the day after his return to America on April 18, 1853. 
  • Sharon shares that modern historians grapple with how to honor the contributions of historic leaders while still recognizing that they committed morally unforgivable acts. As humans, we have a natural tendency to categorize people as either good or bad, but we need to understand the totality of historical figures’ actions. It is easy to look back on history and ask what people were thinking, to question why they would not give up the trappings of wealth to do the right thing as we would today, but we must cast aside our judgment to learn from the tragedies of the past.  

About the Guest:

Abi Ayers is a lifestyle influencer who went viral after getting a bad haircut in 2019 and is now on a mission to remind others that we can control how we react to crappy situations. Abi is committed to building a platform of love, light, and laughter to inspire creativity, positivity, and reflection. Abi is an average Jane, representing modern-day women, a wife, and a mother of three. You can follow her @AbiAyers on social media or learn more about her at


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