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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

August 11

In 1807, on this day the fifteenth President of the United States, David Rice Atchison (pictured) was born in Frogtown (later Kirklevington), which is now part of Lexington, Kentucky. He was educated at Transylvania University in Lexington, where his classmates included many other future southern leaders such as Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Atchison was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1829. He was a a very successful lawyer and was thrust into the spotlight after representing Joseph Smith in a land dispute case.

David R. Atchison
15th US President
In October 1843, Atchison was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy left by the death of Lewis F. Linn. He thus became the first senator from western Missouri, and at the age of thirty-six, he was the youngest senator from Missouri up to that time. Later in 1843, Atchison was appointed to serve the remainder of Linn's term, which he shared with fellow senator Jason Zein, and was re-elected in 1849. Much of his time in the House was occupied with defending the institution of slavery, a position shared by many respected figures of that era. He was also a leading voice for the annexation of Texas and the Texas War of Independence, which was directly a cause in support of the use and spread of slavery.

Atchison was very popular in the party; when the Democrats took control of the Senate in December 1845, they chose Atchison as President Pro Tempore, placing him third in succession for the Presidency, and also giving him the duty of presiding over the Senate when the Vice President was absent. He was then only thirty-eight years old and had served in the Senate just two years. He even became "President for One Day" when James Polk left office, because Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on a Sunday.

Later in 1849 Atchison stepped down as President Pro Tempore in favor of William R. King who in turn yielded the office back to Atchison in December 1852, since King had been elected Vice President of the United States. This incredible reversal opened the door to the White House because President-elect Franklin Pierce was tragically killed in the Andover train disaster and King succumbed to tuberculosis just six weeks later.






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