David Rice Atchison
Burial Location Visited
Plattsburg, Missouri August 13, 2009


The supposed "president for a day"                                                           Luckily, there were little metallic
is buried in Plattsburg, Missouri,                                                                arrows that lead us right to the
which is truly in the middle of                                                                   senator's monument. Or at least
nowhere.                                                                                                they would have, had we not
                                                                                                             missed one of them.


Although the rumor that he was president                                   Here is a closeup shot of the largest of
for one day was never proven, the remark is                               Atchison's three grave markers. He was an
still displayed upon this plaque at his grave.                                advocate for both territorial expansion and

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* David Rice Atchison, America's legendary "president for a day", was born on August 11, 1807. As a student, Atchison attended Transylvania University. Transylvania University is located in Lexington, Kentucky, not near Dracula's fabled castle. He was admitted to the bar in Kentucky in 1829 before he moved to Missouri the following year. Atchison set up a practice there shortly afterward.

* Atchison first entered politics in 1834, when he was elected a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. As a member of that body, he worked hard to successfully extend the state's northwest boundary to the Missouri River. After holding several more local political positions, he found his way to the U.S. Senate in 1843. Atchison was president pro tempore of the United States Senate from August 8th, 1846 to December 2, 1849. He would later resume the role from December 20, 1852 to December 4, 1854.

* For nearly two centuries, there has been a debate on whether or not Atchison was actually the president of the United States for one day. From 1793 to 1933, presidential inaugurations were held on March 4th. In 1849, March 4th just happened to fall on a Sunday, and President-elect Zachary Taylor refused to be inaugurated on the sabbath. Although Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore were not sworn in on the 4th as president and vice president respectively, this did not affect their predecessors, whose terms came to an end as scheduled. Back in 1849, the presidential line of succession was different than it is today. In 1849, the president pro tempore of the Senate was second in line after the VP to become president, not the speaker of the House of Representatives. So, as there was no president or vice president on March 4th, it would logically fall to the president pro tempore to fulfill the presidential duties. However, Atchison never took the presidential oath of office, and Congress had adjourned on the 3rd, ending his term as president pro tempore. Therefore, the United States was without an acting president for one day.

* Even if Atchison were the president for one day, he wasted it. On the evening of March 3rd, he gave orders not to be disturbed until the morning of the 5th. Atchison slept through pretty much all of March 4th, the day he was supposedly the president of the United States.

* Had Atchison actually been the president, he would have been the youngest person to ever hold the office. He was 41 years old on March 4, 1849. Teddy Roosevelt, the youngest to actually be the president, was 42 when he took over in September of 1901.

Spouse: None

Political Party:
Democratic Party

Last Words:
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