DAVID R. ATCHISON and HENRY S. GEYER
Signatures of both US Senators from Missouri. Atchison, a bitter foe
of fellow Democrat Thomas Hart Benton, had helped Geyer, a Whig, replace Benton
in the Senate. While a serving Senator, Geyer represented the slave owner in the
historic Dred Scott case.
Signatures: "H. S. Geyer", "David R Atchison", 5½x3¾.
Clipped from larger sheet; "Missouri" DAVID RICE ATCHISON (1807-1886),
began the practice of law in Missouri in 1829. His most famous client was Mormon
leader Joseph Smith. Atchison represented Missouri in the U.S. Senate
from 1843-1855, serving as President Pro Tempore of the Senate from
1846-1850 and 1852-1854. A strong supporter of slavery, of Texas annexation,
and of the Mexican War, Atchison was the bitter foe of Missouri's other Senator,
fellow Democrat Thomas Hart Benton. Atchison co-operated with the rival Whig
Party to replace Benton with Geyer in the Senate. (Benton would later play a
similar role in denying Atchison third term.) Atchison played a key part in the
routing of the first Transcontinental Railroad, which of course passed through
Atchison, Kansas. As President Pro Tem of the Senate, Atchison was
third in line for the Presidency. The terms of 11th President James K. Polk
and Vice President George M. Dallas ended at noon on Sunday, March 4, 1849.
President-elect Zachary Taylor, a religious man, refused to take the Oath of
Office on Sunday, and he and Vice President-elect Millard Fillmore were not
sworn in until noon on Monday, March 5. Therefore, historians content that
Atchison was President of the United States for a 24-hour period (noon, March
4-noon, March 5). Although there was a question about his "time in office",
since the Senate had been dismissed and there was no President, Vice President
and President Pro Tem, Atchison was the first person sworn in on inauguration
day, and, as the official President Pro Temp, he actually was President until he
sworn in Vice President Millard Fillmore (who was then technically President
until Taylor was sworn in). Atchison commanded a pro-Confederate Missouri
militia force in the first year of the Civil War. HENRY SHEFFIE GEYER
(1790-1859), a former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, was
the author of the Geyer Act (1839), establishing public education in Missouri
and the University of Missouri. He served a single term in the US Senate as
a Whig (1851-1857), elected with the support of Democrat Atchison. Geyer
successfully represented the defendant in the historic case of Dred Scott v.
Sanford (decided in 1857), in which the Supreme Court majority
declared that no person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the
United States. This decision, which infuriated many in the North, contributed to
the election of Abraham Lincoln and the subsequent secession of Southern states.
Slightly creased. Lightly soiled at blank right margin. Pencil notes (unknown
hand) at left margin. Overall, fine condition.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
DAVID R. ATCHISON HENRY SHEFFIE GEYER
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