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934Re: World's smallest presidential library planned in Atchison, Kansas

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  • Ram Lau
    Jul 31, 2005
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      > "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
      had."

      Ram
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