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Archibald Gracie Camp #985
New York, N.Y.
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
The Man Who Was President for One Day

A native of Kentucky, where he attended University with future Confederate President Jefferson Davis, David Rice Atchison moved to Missouri as a young lawyer, where he became the legal advocate for Mormon leader Joseph Smith, among others. His involvement with Mormonism would continue when he was appointed Major General of the Missouri State Militia to help quash violence on both sides during the Mormon War of 1838.

When Southern States began departing the Union, Atchison supported Missouri’s Governor in his desire to join the fledgling Confederacy, and was appointed a General in the Missouri State Guard, with which he fought through the summer campaign of 1861, culminating with a great Confederate Victory in September 1861 at the Battle of Liberty. However, when the Union successfully invaded Missouri and deposed its elected government, Atchison withdrew to Texas, not to return to his home until the War’s conclusion.

However, it is an event over a decade prior to the War that has earned Atchison a unique position in American History. In 1849, Atchison was President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and thus, followed the Vice President in terms of succession to the Presidency. At noon on Sunday, March 4th, President Polk’s term ended, and Zachary Taylor, the elected successor, refused to be sworn in on the Lord’s Day. So, some say, for that day, Atchison was President.

Atchison never personally subscribed to the idea, but did note happily that if he had in fact been President: “not a woman or a child shed a tear on account of my removing any one from office during my incumbency of the place.”



Archibald Gracie Camp #985
New York, N.Y.
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
PGMcCullough@scv.nyc
1-800-MY-DIXIE (1-800-693-4943)