Editor says, what if the Andover train disaster had killed Franklin Pierce? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
Editor says, in reality Wikipedia reports ~ on January 6, 1853, the President-elect's family had boarded a train in Boston, and were trapped in their derailed car when it rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts. Pierce and his wife survived, merely shaken up, but saw their 11-year-old son Benjamin crushed to death. Jane Pierce viewed the train accident as a divine punishment for her husband's pursuit and acceptance of high office.
Huffington Post concludes ~ King was dying of tuberculosis when he was sworn in as Vice President. If Pierce had succumbed, and King shortly thereafter, then the presidency would have fallen to David Rice Atchison, President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The succession law was different from 1792-1886. Also, the president didn't appoint a new VP to fill out a term until much later. Atchison is famous for the myth of having been "resident for a day" in 1849. He was pro-slavery expansionist and may have looked south in expanding the country. King is notable for being best friend, and possible lover, of bachelor president James Buchanan. Editorial comments are entered in [light green] typeface.