Every once in a while,
I like to peruse the U. S. Library of Congress's
photo collection just to have a sense of history
and how it's been recorded,
mostly in images.
Recently I can across a daguerrotype
of a guy named David Rice Atchison.
Who was this man, I wondered.
Although the image isn't of the highest quality,
he looks reasonably well to do and officious.
A little research online told me this:
Atchison was born in what is now Lexington, Kentucky
in 1807. He was educated at Transylvania University
in Lexington and became a member of the bar in 1829.
A year later, he moved to Clay County, Missouri in
the western part of the state. His law practice there
thrived and one of his best known clients was
Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saints.
He was first elected to office in 1834, the Missouri
House of Representatives. He was reelected four years later.
Three years after that, he was appointed circuit court judge
for six counties.
In October 1843, he was appointed to fill a vacant
U.S. Senate seat and became the first Senator
from western Missouri. He served the remainder
of the term and was reelected in 1849.
As a senator, Atchison was fervently pro-slavery
and pro-territorial expansion. He supported the annexation
of Texas during the Mexican-American War.
During his time in the Senate, he served as
President Pro Tempore, making him third in line
to the Presidency for the period of time he served
in that post. His bid for reelection in 1855 failed
and he never served in the Senate thereafter.
He died in Missouri in January 1886 and was buried