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David Rice Atchison

Born in Kentucky in 1807, Atchison attended college when he was only fourteen.  While attending the Transylvania College, he became a classmate of Jefferson Davis.  Atchison graduated with honors at age 18, and by 1830, Atchison had moved to western Missouri to practice law. Four years later he was in the Missouri State Legislature.  

It was during this time that Atchison, along with several others, played a key role in obtaining the Platte Purchase, which includes Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Nodaway and Atchison counties. (Atchison county was named in his honor).

In 1842 Atchison was appointed by the governor to fill an unexpired term of one of the state's senators: a move that would later solidify Atchison's name in the history books.   It was March 4th, 1849 when President Polk's term expired and the new president, Zachary Taylor, refused to take office on a Sunday.

For more details on Atchison, visit the David Rice Atchison Museum located in the basement of the Clinton County Courthouse on Main Street.

Taylor's refusal to take office on the Sabbath created a significant problem in that no one knew who the President was for that one day. Normally, the Vice President  would fill this role, but Vice president George Dallas' term had also expired on the same day. By law, the presidency then fell toe the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, which was of course, David Rice Atchison.

Some argue that Atchison was never really President since he was never sworn into office, but others say he is on the congressional record as being President for a day.


Web sponsored by:   

Plattsburg Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 134
Plattsburg, MO 64477


Special thanks to The Clinton County Leader and RT Photography
for donating many of the pictures for use on this site and
to Marti Spease-Riddle for the picture of the Christian Church used in the header for this website.