Atchison, David Rice

Atchison, David Rice

(ăch`ĭsən), 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 ActKansas-Nebraska Act,
bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1854 the organization of the vast Platte and Kansas river countries W of Iowa and Missouri was overdue.
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 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. AtchisonAtchison,
city (1990 pop. 10,656), seat of Atchison co., NE Kans., on the Missouri River; inc. 1881. It is a trade and industrial center in a rich grain producing area. Atchison was founded (1854) near a military post, established (1818–19) on Cow Island in the Missouri,
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, Kans., is named for him.

Bibliography

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

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Atchison, David Rice

(1807–86) U.S. senator; born in Frogtown, Ky. Moving to Missouri to practice law, he served briefly as a federal judge (1841–43). He was appointed and then elected to the U.S. Senate (Dem., Mo.; 1843–55). A supporter of slavery, he helped frame the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854). After losing his seat in the Senate, he went back to Missouri and supported those who attacked the anti-slavery settlers in Kansas. He moved to Texas during the Civil War but returned to Missouri to spend his final years as a farmer.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.