David Rice Atchison

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David Rice Atchison (August 11, 1807 – January 26, 1886) was a mid-19th century Democratic[1] United States Senator from Missouri.[1] He served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate for six years.[2] He is best known for the claim that for one day (March 4, 1849) he may have been Acting President of the United States.[3]

Atchison was a prominent pro-slavery activist and Border Ruffian leader, deeply involved with violence against abolitionists and other free-staters during the "Bleeding Kansas" events.[4][5][6][7]


Early life

Atchison was born to William Atchison in Frogtown (later Kirklevington), which is now part of Lexington, Kentucky. He was educated at Transylvania University in Lexington, where his classmates included five future Democratic Senators (Solomon Downs of Louisiana, Jesse Bright of Indiana, George W. Jones of Iowa, Edward Hannegan of Indiana, and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi). Atchison was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1829.[8]

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