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David Rice Atchison: A Featured Biography


Although Ripley’s Believe It or Not hailed him as the famous “President for a Day,” Missouri Senator David Rice Atchison (1807-1886) never actually held that position. He was, however, unanimously elected to serve as the Senate’s president pro tempore on August 8, 1846. Senator Atchison was reelected to this distinguished position 16 times, serving from 1846 to 1849, and again from 1852 to 1854. Appointed to the Senate in 1843, Atchison served two terms. He was instrumental in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854, and the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  In 1855, with Missouri’s Democratic party divided over the issue of slavery, his staunch support of that institution cost him a third term. Upon his departure, this Senate seat was left vacant for nearly two years because the Missouri legislature was deadlocked in its choice for his successor.


Counting the Votes in February 1877

"Washington, D.C.—The Electoral Contest—The United States Senators Entering the House of Representatives, with the Electoral Certificates, to Re-open the Joint Session, February 12th." by Unidentified after Harry Ogden. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper,1877-03-03. To learn more about this event read Isaac Bassett's account of "Counting the Votes in February 1877".

Pro Tem

Pro Tem: Presidents Pro Tempore of the united States Senate Since 1789

The Senate president pro tempore is one of our national legisla- ture's three constitutionally mandated officers, along with the vice president and Speaker of the House. The president pro tempore is authorized to preside over the Senate, sign legislation, and issue the oath of office to new senators. Pro Tem: Presidents Pro Tempore of the United States Senate Since 1789 traces the development of the office in four brief essays and features biographical profiles and photographic images of its 87 occupants. Pro Tem offers stories that demonstrate how much the Senate has changed throughout its long history, while striving to maintain the ideals of its 18th-century creators.


The Senate Chamber, 1859-2009

Counting Electoral Votes (pdf)

Senate Presents Portrait of Senator Thomas A. Daschle



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Brumidi, Artist of the Capitol

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Famous Five, Now Nine

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McCarthy Hearings Released

A list of Senators for whom we have no photo or other image in our collection. If you have an image, or information that may lead us to an image, please contact us.