Thanks, Ram. I've always regarded Atchison's claim as
fishy, but haven't had the information to disprove it.
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...
> > "The press at the time referred to him vice
> president," Taylor said.
> > "He assumed the duties of the vice president,
> which was to preside
> > over the Senate."
> Thanks Greg! Great article. I didn't know about
> Atchison being in a
> leadership position of the Senate and referred to as
> the Veep. As a
> follow-up, the following excerpt is from Atchison's
> bio page on Wikipedia:
> While it is true that the offices of President and
> Vice President were
> vacant, Atchison in fact was not next in line. While
> the terms of
> James K. Polk and Vice President George Mifflin
> Dallas expired at noon
> on March 4, Atchison's tenure as President Pro
> Tempore did as well. He
> also never took the oath of office, although there
> is no
> constitutional requirement, then or now, for an
> Acting President to do
> so. No disability or lack of qualification prevented
> Taylor and
> Fillmore from taking office, and as they had been
> duly certified as
> President-elect and Vice-President elect, if Taylor
> was not President
> because he had not been sworn in as such, then
> Atchison, who hadn't
> been sworn in either, certainly wasn't.
> The highest-ranking officer who legally continued in
> office during the
> interim was Polk's Secretary of State, James
> Buchanan, so one could
> argue that he was President for a day.
> Interestingly, Buchanan was
> actually elected President in his own right in 1856.
> Atchison was sworn in for his new term as President
> Pro Tem minutes
> before both Fillmore and Taylor, which might
> theoretically make him
> Acting President for at least that length of time;
> however, this also
> implies that any time the Vice President is sworn in
> before the
> President, the Vice President is the de facto Acting
> President. Since
> this is a common occurrence, if Atchison is
> considered President, so
> must every Vice President whose inauguration
> preceded that of the
> President. Obviously this is not the case.
> Therefore, while one could
> argue that Atchison was legally President for a few
> minutes (though
> even this much is debatable), claims that he should
> be considered an
> "official" President are absurd.
> When asked what he did on March 4, 1849, Atchison
> replied, "I went to
> bed. There had been two or three busy nights
> finishing up the work of
> the Senate, and I slept most of that Sunday." He
> jokingly boasted that
> his "presidency" was the "most honest administration
> this country ever