Atchison, David Rice

Atchison, David Rice ăch´ĭsən [key], 1807–86, U.S. Senator, b. Frogtown, Ky. A lawyer and politician in Missouri, he served in the Senate from 1843 to 1855. As a proslavery Democrat, Atchison was instrumental in having the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed. He is sometimes regarded as having been president for a day because he was president pro tempore of the Senate (and next in the line of succession after the departing president and vice president) when, for religious reasons, President-elect Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sunday (Mar. 4, 1849) when his inauguration was first scheduled to occur. Atchison, however, neither took the oath of office constitutionally required of the president nor was recognized at the time as temporarily serving as president. After his defeat for reelection in 1855, he was a leader of the border ruffians in the raids into Kansas (1855–56). He supported the Confederacy in the Civil War. Atchison, Kans., is named for him.

See biography by W.E. Parrish (1961).

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