Monday, October 27, 2008

President Atchinson?

I am a big fan of useless trivia, especially useless political trivia. So here's something I learned today at the end of my Conflict of Laws class (completely irrelevant to anything we learned today):

David Rice Atchinson was President of the United States for a day, or arguably, at least a few minutes. See, President James Polk and his Vice President's term ended at noon on Sunday March 4, 1849. But Millard Filmore and his Vice President refused to be inaugurated on the Sabbath. So Senate Pro-Tempore Atchinson became President.

There is dispute on Wikipedia about how long Atchinson was actually President: some say a few hours some say just a few minutes because his Senate President Pro-Tempore term expired too. But who cares? It would be great to be President for a few minutes without doing any work, and he got to put it on his tombstone. It is like that Australian speed-skater who won the Gold medal by default because Apolo Anton Ono and the Korean speed-skater collided.

My favorite part of the story is that when asked what he did on this day, he commented "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." Slept for his entire term.

Thus endeth the random history lesson for today.

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