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David R. Atchison Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: August 11, 1807 in Lexington, Kentucky
Died: June 26, 1886 in Gower, Missouri
Biography | show moreshow less
ATCHISON (1807-1886), who began his practice of law in Liberty, Clay County, 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. The Atchison-Benton feud split the Party, eventually costing both men their Senate seats. Atchison played a key role 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.

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