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David Rice Atchison: A Featured Biography

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

Although Ripley’s Believe It or Not hailed him as the famous “President for a Day,” Senator David Rice Atchison (1807-1886) of Missouri never actually held that position. He was, however, unanimously elected to serve as the Senate’s president pro tempore on August 8, 1846. Senator Atchison was reelected to this distinguished position 16 times, serving from 1846 to 1849, and again from 1852 to 1854. Appointed to the Senate in 1843, Atchison served two terms. He was instrumental in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 and the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  In 1855, with Missouri’s Democratic Party divided over the issue of slavery, his staunch support of that institution cost him a third term. Upon his departure, this Senate seat was left vacant for nearly two years because the Missouri legislature was deadlocked in its choice for his successor.

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